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Charles Cromwell Ingham

(1796—1863) portrait and miniature painter


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(1796–1863).

Painter. A portrait specialist, he also produced genre scenes and occasional landscapes. Much admired for the delicacy of his highly finished surfaces, for the sensuous luster he imparted to skin tones, and for colorful articulation of decorative accessories, particularly flowers, he was in great demand for portraits of women. Contemporaries often found competitor Henry Inman's somewhat broader and more insightful approach more satisfying for male subjects. Rarely including much consideration of individual character, Ingham's virtuoso performances suggest sweetness beyond reproach. An ambitious work, Amelia Palmer (Metropolitan Museum, 1830) offers a poetic idyll. Situating its full-length pre-adolescent subject within a landscape, it pictures a gracefully posed, delicate girl who carries a broad-brimmed hat spilling with flowers as she pauses within a lush natural setting. Ingham's best known painting, the sentimental but sexually charged Flower Girl (Metropolitan Museum, 1846) prettifies a lower-class subject, while ambiguously entertaining questions about her psychology, her social role, and the reactions she might have provoked from her viewers. Born and trained as an artist in Dublin, Ingham moved permanently to New York in 1816, already in command of a securely professional technique that hints at firsthand knowledge of the contemporary, more decorative phase of French neoclassical portraiture. An active participant in New York's art life, Ingham numbered among founders and active participants in the National Academy of Design and the Sketch Club, precursor to the prestigious Century Club. In 1837, while accompanying the New York State geologist on a survey trip, he produced some of the earliest landscape images of the Adirondack area.

Subjects: Art.


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