Born at Utica, New York, Henry Inman moved with his parents to New York City, where he began a seven-year apprenticeship under portraitist John Wesley Jarvis. In 1824 Inman established his own studio in the city. Two years later he helped to found the National Academy of Design, serving as its vice president until 1831, when he moved to Philadelphia to become a partner in the lithographic firm of Childs and Inman. He returned to New York City in 1834 and enjoyed considerable success over the next ten years as a portrait painter, including among his sitters President Martin Van Buren and Chief Justice John Marshall. Inman’s last important commission took him to England in 1844-45 to paint the portraits of Lord Macaulay and of the poet William Wordsworth. He died within a few months of his return to the States.
While abroad, Inman painted the portrait of Scottish nobleman Sir William Drummond Stewart, who had undertaken an expedition into the American West in 1837 accompanied by Alfred Jacob Miller, a Baltimore artist. Miller produced a number of works for Stewart at Murthly Castle in Scotland, where he met Inman. A collection of Miller’s watercolors and the Inman portrait of Stewart ultimately were purchased by Joslyn Art Museum. Stewart’s portrait is one of the last that Inman painted and, arguably, one of the best.
– David C. Hunt