Harry Aiken Vincent (1864-1931)

Harry Aiken Vincent (1864-1931)

A principal figure of the Cape Ann art colony, Harry Aiken Vincent developed a career of high regard from an astoundingly modest background in the fine arts. He was a self-taught painter, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, but dedicated to the quaint New England seaside towns of Rockport and Gloucester for much of his adult life. Surprisingly little is known about Vincent’s early years until the artist made his first public appearance in the fine art world in an 1891 exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. He would continue showing his work there until 1929 and was a regular contributor to exhibits at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, and the Salmagundi Club. The latter awarded him several prizes during the teens, and in 1920 Vincent became an Associate of the National Academy.

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               Rural landscapes of the towns surrounding Chicago are prevalent among Vincent’s early compositions, until he moved to New York City in 1897. From this advantageous locale, he explored the coastline of Massachusetts, beginning with Cape Cod and expanding up to Cape Ann in 1918. While a soft-spoken and retrospective individual, Vincent was highly involved in the organized arts of Cape Ann. He was a senior member of the community, but nonetheless participated in the climactic meeting at Aldro Hibbard’s studio in 1921 when the Rockport Art Association was founded. Vincent was immediately elected as the first President of the organization, and while this was only a brief one-year term, he went on to join the Board of Directors of the newly founded North Shore Arts Association just a few years later. 
                In 1923, Vincent embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe and would revisit the continent over the ensuing years. He wrote home to his friends in Rockport of the abundant subject matter he discovered in France, Spain and Italy, as well as Morocco, and enjoyed working en plein air throughout his travels. In 1926, Casson Galleries in Boston hosted a solo exhibition of his work for the first time, a show that included his paintings of both Cape Ann and Europe and received great public interest. Plagued by illness in his later years, it was sadly not long after this exhibition that Vincent reached the end of his career. He passed away in 1931, remembered fondly by the Gloucester Daily Times: “Harry Aiken Vincent, A.N.A., one of the foremost American landscape painters, died at his home on Atlantic Avenue, Rockport, yesterday, at noon after an illness of several months…The artist was one of the most loveable of men, and thoroughly an artist.”[1]


[1] Gloucester Daily Times obituary, Sept. 27, 1931, as cited in Judith A. Curtis, Harry A. Vincent, A.N.A, p. 16.

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