Henry Chapman Ford

Henry Chapman Ford (1828-1894) was born in Livonia, New York on August 6, 1828. He studied art in Paris and Florence during 1857-60. While serving in the Civil War, he provided sketches for the illustrated press; due to a physical disability, he served only one year. Upon discharge, he moved to Chicago where he became the city’s first professional landscape painter. While there, he helped found the Academy of Design and served as its president for several years. Most of his early work was destroyed when the Academy burned in 1871. Due to failing health, he was forced to seek a milder climate; trips were made to Colorado in 1866 and 1869. In 1875 he settled in Santa Barbara, California where he spent the rest of his life. From his painting trips by horse and buggy to the 21 mission sites, he created a portfolio of watercolors, oils, and etchings that are historically important. His depictions of the missions were responsible for the revival of interest in our Spanish heritage and indirectly for the restoration of the missions. In 1883 he published Etchings of the Franciscan Missions of California and in 1893 exhibited these etchings at the Chicago World’s Fair. When not out on sketching trips, Ford taught and painted at his studio in Santa Barbara until his death on February 27, 1894. Exhibited: Mechanics’ Institute (San Francisco), 1893. Works held: Bancroft Library (University of California at Berkeley); Southwest Museum (Los Angeles); Oakland Museum; Riverside Inn; Stanford University.