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Chromolithography and the mystery of Henri and Anita LeRoy

Chromolithography and the mystery of Henri and Anita LeRoy published on 19 Comments on Chromolithography and the mystery of Henri and Anita LeRoy

It all started with a print called “Spirited Horses”  diningroomwallon 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  While researching his find, he found from a discussion list (no longer active) that Spirited Horses no. 2 was part of 4 companion images.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:

LeroySignatureLeroySignature2 leroysignature3
On the contrary, I wonder if there may be another answer and another artist for the prints out of Jos. Hoover & Sons, separate from Henri LeRoy (1851-) and Anita Pemberton (nee LeRoy).  The only person who may really know the answer is the printmaker himself:  Joseph Hoover.  The Philadelphia Print Shop Ltd., and the related Antique Prints Blog describe Joseph Hoover as the maker of elaborate wooden frames who later began producing prints under other publishers of the day including James F. Queen.   The Library Company of Philadelphia adds that Joseph Hoover, of Swiss-German heritage, was born in Baltimore in 1830 and became one of the most prolific chromolithographers of late 19th century parlor prints after he opened his own shop.  By 1893 his business was booming and he was working closely with his son, trained lithographer Henry Leander Hoover (b. Sept. 1866).

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.’

spiritedhorsesinstormWildHorses2small
The first, an edition of the print I inherited from my grandmother:  “Spirited Horses.”  I am only guessing that the second was part of the same series; it is titled ‘Wild Horses.’   Not attributed to LeRoy, this Jos. Hoover & Son print was also titled ‘Spirited Horses:’

alsospiritedhorses
While researching the chromolithographic business world of the late 19th century I stumbled upon this image by Louis Prang Co., another and perhaps more popular print maker from the West coast, called ‘Horses in a Storm.’  It struck me for it’s visual similarity to Jos. Hoover & Sons ‘Wild Horses’ above.  It is dated on or before 1897, predating any of the Jos. Hoover & Sons editions of ‘Spirited Horses’ that I could find.

PrangCoHorses-in-a-storm
The rest of the LeRoy catalog at Jos. Hoover & Sons was mostly still life involving fruits and flowers.  Images of the prints come and go from search engines as auctions at a variety of sites open and close.  I’ve collected a handful, but I suspect it is no where near exhaustive:


 

 


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:

AnitaSignature1 AnitaSignature2
was born in 1877 to Rev. Jacob and Annie LeRoy in New Hampshire¹.  Jacob was the first rector of St. Martin’s.  Anita and her sisters, Charlotte and Margaret, were used to a level of affluence and servants.  Anita studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and also under Whistler in Paris in the 1890s².  Upon her return from Europe she became involved with the recently formed Plastic Club, an art organization for women that offered art classes, social events, exhibitions, and an annual masquerade called “The Rabbit” (Wikipedia).  Around the time that she was a participant artist in the “Exibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts” in 1906³, she also bought 26 Summit St. house and property with Clifford Pemberton (b. Dec. 1959), the son of a retired sulfur salt manufacturer, graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and operator of real estate in Philadelphia¹.  Clifford’s first real estate parcel was inherited from an Isreal Pemberton and would later be the site of the John Coltrane house4.  Anita and Clifford would be married in the Memorial Church of All Angels in Twilight Park, NY on May 28, 19085 when Anita was 31 and Clifford was 48.  They had children:  Nancy, LeRoy, and Priscilla¹.  Though they would not sell the Summit Street house until as late as 1935 they are listed as living in Massachusetts (1910) and Allen Lane in Germantown Philadelphia⁶ (1912).

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.

Notes:

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

19 Comments

My parents were given “The Storm” as a wedding gift 70 years ago. We still have it. This weekend I found 2–Spirited Horses and it is very very old. No date though. The are facing the opposite direction. Can’t wait to have them hanging together. Such a memory..

Hi! I’ve been trying to find a lithograph of this poster print my mother gave me a few years ago. I just love the form, but never realized the history. I’m sure it must be one of the 4 Spirited Horses paintings but can’t find it anywhere online! The black & white horses are stopped with a front leg in the air, facing to the right. The picture has scratches & a watermark so wanted to just replace it. How awesome to see the other one of the same horses!

Enjoyed your blog very much~ I ran across Storm Horses thumb tacked to a wall at an estate sale. I absolutely had to have it, chewed up corners from being repeatedly thumb tacked and all! All creased and tattered, it is framed and hanging in my dining room and is my favorite.
My comment or even question is that one day a person much older than myself was over and saw it. She asked had I looked at the back of it as those were known to have been printed on paper that had something to do with currency or currency paper. I am still confused by her comment, but thought I’d share. Never heard that before.
Now I know there are three others, keeping my eyes open~

Where can I attach a photo of my painting I have to show any experts out there?

Comments currently allow html and linking, but do not allow uploading of files. You can link to the image if you have it on the web somewhere.

This blog post isn’t really an expert forum though. You might get better response from finding an art forum and posting there.

i was told the set of 4 wild horses prints were made by different artists that worked for the company and they wore given free wrapped around a roll of snuff. mine is dated 1902, #2

I have long stated at the same exact Spirited Horses print ( we called it lightning horses) at my own grandmothers camp!! It has been hanging there since early 1900s. Amazingly…..one of the pitcher and fruit still life prints also hang above the kitchen table there as well….again has been there since early 1900s. Are these two prints done by the same artist?? I’ve also had a particular fondness for these two prints. I came across your blog while searching to find prints to purchase for myself!

I have two Henri Leroy prints I am sure of the name of one. The first is Hanging Bird Print Quail Grouse Woodcock Dead Game, the second is a guess possibly Hanging Rabbit and Bird. These were a gift from my mother. Both are framed and signed and numbered. I found one other sold online and was posted very rare. Thank you for the info.

I believe I have the original painting by LeRoy. How can I verify this?

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