Open main menu

History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/George H. Yewell

George H. Yewell - History of Iowa.jpg

GEORGE HENRY YEWELL was born at Havre de Grace, Maryland, January 20, 1830. His early school days were spent in Cincinnati. One of his teachers there in the public school was the late Hon. Theodore S. Parvin of Iowa. His mother, with some relatives, went to Iowa City in 1841 when the old Capitol building was being erected. From early youth he gave indications of talent in picture making, his first rude attempts being in caricature. A humorous sketch called the “Removal of the Capitol” from Iowa City, brought him before the public and the members of the Legislature then in session at Iowa City. This caricature attracted the attention of Judge Charles Mason, who sought him out and aided him with money, by which he was able to begin a course of art study in New York in 1851, entering the schools of the National Academy of Design.

In 1856 he went to Paris and became a pupil of Thomas Couture, one of the great painters of France. The panic of 1857 obliged him to support himself by making copies of popular pictures in the galleries of Paris. In 1860 he went to Holland and Belgium to study the masterpieces of the Dutch and Flemish painters, and returned to New York in 1861. His moat important picture painted in France was “Children on the Seashore, Normandy,” commissioned by the late John Allen, Esq., of Saybrook, Conn. In New York in 1866 he painted a portrait of his early patron, Charles Mason, an engraving from which appears in this volume.

In 1867 he went to Italy, taking a studio in Rome, where he lived until 1878, spending the summer months either at Perugia, Venice or the Venetian Tyrol. Of Italian subjects his principal pictures were “Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice,” owned by Senator Allison of Iowa; “Senate Chamber in the Doge's Palace, Venice,” painted for the late George Kemp, Esq., of New York, and “Interior of St. Mark's Church, Venice,” in the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.

Since 1878, Mr. Yewell has lived in New York, spending his summers at Lake George. Nearly all of these years have been given to portrait painting. Many of his most important portraits are in the Capitol at Des Moines, where may be seen those of Ex-Governors Kirkwood, Lowe and Chambers, General Grenville M. Dodge and Judges Mason, Wright and Dillon.

In 1880 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design. He is a Patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a member of the Century Club, and for many years has been secretary of the Artists' Fund Society of the City of New York.