Harry A. Vincent, scenic artist

In 1922, Thomas Moses recalls working with Harry A. Vincent, Frank Peyraud, Victor Higgins, John H. Young, Edgar Payne and many other well-known artists. He writes:

“As I look backward over the names of the successful ones, I wonder what I would have done had I been gifted with the same amount of talent.

So it goes on, year after year, and you keep just a little bit ahead of the game, just enough to convince your friends that you are really a good fellow and that you haven’t abused their confidence.

But you are bound to look backwards and wish for the “Land of Beginning Again”

I wish that there were some wonderful place,
Called the “Land of Beginning Again”
Where all our mistakes and our heartaches
And all of our poor, selfish grief,
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.
(Louisa Fletcher Tarkington)”

An absolutely lovely sentiment and how close this hits to home!

My initial intent was to add a few images of each artists work, so I did a little research about the above mentioned artists that Moses referred to as the “successful ones” – cross-referencing the information with my database. Upon looking at their stories, legacies, and artworks, I think that I will present each one independently.

Today, I start with Harry A. Vincent (1864-1931).

Vincent appears in various articles and manuscripts, including Edward Fournier’s who recalls Vincent in 1927. Vincent was one of Fournier’s “pot boys.”

Brief side note on this title…I have stumbled across the designation of “pot boy” quite a bit lately, having never heard it before this year. It is another name designated to paint boys as it refers to one of their duties – keeping the “color pots” on the palette full. Keep in mind, not all paint boys advanced to artists as not every studio honored an apprentice system and just hired young boys to provided cheap labor (BIG surprise).

Vincent was born in Chicago in 1864 and started life as a scenic artist and was an artist for many other venues. Again, painting to make money with whatever came their way! He really leaned towards fine art and teaching though, teaching at the National Academy of Design in NY, the Art Institute in Chicago, the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburg and the Academy of Fine Arts (Pittsburgh). Vincent was also a member of the Salmagundi club (New York) with Moses and many others, winning the 1907 Shaw Prize and the 1916 Isador prize.

Crossing the country, he continued work as a scenic artist and exhibit fine art. Finally in 1918 he was elected as an Associate for the National Academy of Design (NY). As with most late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century scenic artists (that I have studied), their fine art complemented their studio work. Plus, I believe that there is a practical training and study when one paints small and paints large – really large. The artist gathers the best tools and techniques from both worlds to artistically learn and grow in every aspect.

In 1893 at the age of 31 yrs. old, he applied for a position with Moses at Sosman and Landis Studio, but by 1898 decided to leave for NYC. In New York, he works for Gates & Morange. In some cases, Moses urges people not to enter the field of scenic art and continue on a path toward fine art – noting the physically strenuous work of the studio.

One example of Vincent’s scenic art work was for the “Flag of Truce” for William Haworth. For this project, he painted with A. J. Rupert, Thomas Moses, and Frank Peyraud, plus a number of other artists and assistants.

Attached are some examples of his fine art work.





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