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Henry Theodore Tuckerman


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Critic. A leading American mid-nineteenth-century writer on art, he is remembered today chiefly for his Book of the Artists: American Artist Life (1867). Profiling artists from colonial days to his own time, the work reflects his personal acquaintance with the New York art world. He also wrote literary criticism, poetry, travel essays, and biographies. Tuckerman was born in Boston, where he was educated at Boston Latin School and Harvard. Because of poor health, in 1833 he left college after two years to depart for about a year in Italy, which ignited his interest in art and literature. After his return, he served as a magazine editor and began a prolific writing career. He again sojourned in Italy between 1836 and 1838, and later spent about a year in England. In 1845 he moved to New York, where for many years he wrote on art and other subjects for periodicals and continued to turn out a steady stream of books. His first book on art, Artist-Life, or Sketches of American Painters appeared in 1847. Tuckerman's art criticism reflects both a cosmopolitan appreciation of European culture and an enthusiasm for the development of a native school of American art, which he identified primarily with landscape painting. He died in New York.

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