Henry James and American Painting


Listen to the exhibition audio guide narrated by co-curator and acclaimed novelist Colm Tóibín with an introduction by Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library & Museum.

Henry James (1843–1916) was fascinated by painters and sculptors. In his novels and stories, he wrote about art and artists. He used the gaze and the creation of scenes in his  fiction as though he were a painter. In his travels through Italy, he visited galleries and wrote many letters about the art he saw. Numerous painters, including John La Farge, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Frank Duveneck, and Elizabeth Boott, were among his friends. The visual arts were at the very center of his life, and his relationship to painting and sculpture, and to artists, enriched his sensibility.

This exhibition—featuring paintings, drawings, sculpture and photographs by several of the artists in James’s circle, as well as a selection of his own manuscripts and letters—elucidates the connections between one of the supreme novelists of his age and the artists and works of art that nourished and inspired his  fiction.

This online exhibition was created in conjunction with the exhibition Henry James and American Painting, on view June 9 through September 10, 2017.

Henry James and American Painting is made possible with a lead gift from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation.

Major funding is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Generous support is provided by Karen H. Bechtel, the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, and the Franklin Jasper Walls Lecture Fund, and assistance from Barbara G. Fleischman and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

JL GreeneHenry Luce Foundation

Alice Boughton (1865–1943), Henry James, 1906, gelatin silver print. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. Gift of Allan M. Price.