It all started with a print called “Spirited Horses” on my dining room wall. I had inherited it from my grandmother. I remember sleeplessly looking up at it on the wall of her den during ‘nap time.’ A notation on the bottom says it was copyright in 1900 by Jos. Hoover & Sons. The signature reads ‘LeRoy’ with a circular flourish around it.
Then I saw the same picture in a magazine spread of an interior designer’s home and I was so captured by coincidence that I found out all I could on the artist and wrote a short post on my blog: Vintage Prints and Small Worlds.
At that point in time, I found that the print was attributed to a Henri LeRoy (1851-), still life painter in France. I have since found that the true artistry of Spirited Horses is much more convoluted.
A dealer on an auction site had a 1904 edition of Spirited Horses that lists it as a no. 2 in a series of images. While researching his find, he found from a discussion list (no longer active) that Spirited Horses no. 2 was part of 4 companion images. No. 4 in this series apparently shows the horses dead. These images were attributed to Anita LeRoy, signing simply as LeRoy. On yet another auction site, a dealer with a 1908 edition of Spirited Horses #2, spots it in the movie A Christmas Story in the scene where the leg lamp breaks.
I hate to say it, but all my researching didn’t turn up any definitive answer on whether Henri or Anita was the author Spirited Horses, or the many other prints that came out of Jos. Hoover & Sons printing with signatures like:
What I did find in all my research was a relatively robust collection of Jos. Hoover & Sons LeRoy prints, as well as a small collection of Anita LeRoy Pemberton work and also some images from Henri LeRoy (1851-) for comparison. Let’s start with ‘Spirited Horses.’
Anita LeRoy Pemberton is sometimes attributed to at least the ‘Spirited Horses’ print, and since it shares the same signature style with the other LeRoy work in the Jos. Hoover & Sons catalog, we could make the leap that Anita LeRoy Pemberton was the artist of all the above works. However, a different collection of work attributed, with more documentation, to Anita LeRoy is of a very different nature, quality, and has very different signature styles.
Anita LeRoy with signature like:
In Biographical Sketches of American Artists by Helen Earle, Anita was noted for paintings: “Dutch canal and boat,” “Dutch Fisherman,” “Dutch Children,” and “Dutch woman sweeping snow.” She was also the illustrator of Little Folk of Brittany by Alice Calhoun Haines, and “The Mistaken Jest of Monsieur Bonamy” by William Hereford, featured in Scribner’s volume 44.
I was able to gather a selection of her work, from both projects listed above and also from Scenes at a Breton Fair which appeared in Century Illustrated, it all is very distinct from the selection of LeRoy prints offered by Jos. Hoover & Sons:
On the other hand, Henri LeRoy, the French Landscape painter born in 1851, also had a very distinct style separate from both the Jos. Hoover & Sons LeRoy and Anita LeRoy Pemberton. I was able to gather up a few examples:
As far as I can tell, this Henri LeRoy never moved from France and did not do any business with Jos. Hoover & Sons, though that is all I was able to find out. I have searched for evidence of an artist Henri LeRoy living in the area of Jos. Hoover & Sons with no luck.
It is much easier to say who Jos. Hoover & Sons LeRoy is not. He is not the same Henri LeRoy (1579-1652) who was a Parisian engraver who’s etchings were of service to many naturalists. Nor was he Henri Eloy Leroy, a French politian ca. 1787-1865. Nor is he the Henri Leroy whose childhood portrait was so famously counterfeited. Finally, I do not believe that he is the French landscape artist Henri LeRoy (1851-), to whom I attributed ‘Spirited Horses’ in my first post on the subject.
This leaves Anita LeRoy Pemberton. The examples I found of her work, and her renown for being a Dutch genre scene painter, don’t mesh very well with the Jos. Hoover & Sons selection of LeRoy works. Looking at the varying art styles and, especially, the differing signature styles make me want to say that the Jos. Hoover & Sons’ LeRoy is also not Anita LeRoy Pemberton. If they are one in the same person, I would look for a reason for the marked differences. Perhaps the images she gave or sold to Jos. Hoover & Sons were created before or during her schooling, before her studying with Whistler in the 1890s, and represent earlier stages in the development of her style. Dates would help this, unfortunately the dating on “Spirited Horses” alone shows that print makers frequently re-issued their prints.
1. U.S. Census 1880, 1900
2. From Biographical sketches of American artists by Michigan State Library; Earle, Helen L. and Social Register, Philadelphia 1912.
3. Lloyd, David. (1906) “The Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts” The International Studio. 28: 7-15.
4. History of the John Coltrane House: https://ruraltourban.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/history-of-the-john-coltrane-house-philadelphia-pa/
5. History of the Memorial Church of All Angels: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nygreen2/history_of_the_memorial_church_of_all_angels_twilight_park_haines_falls.htm
6. Fellowship fo the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 16th annual report of membership