Harry R. Townsend
Fountain City, IN
George Herbert Baker
- Wayne County
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Harry Townsend was born in Fountain City, Indiana on May 22, 1885. The artist was self-taught and for the most part, painted as a hobby. He was a contemporary and friend of George Herbert Baker, whom he studied under and painted with around the Whitewater Valley for forty years. He also studied under artist Randolph Coats. Townsend was a resident of Richmond, Indiana, known for the realistic landscapes that he painted there. His paintings were predominantly fall and winter scenes and he received the most praise for his snowscapes. The artist maintained a summer studio in Centerville, just south of the Hiser’s station covered bridge in Wayne County, and also a studio in his Richmond home.
Additionally, Townsend was a well-known antique dealer for 40 years and displayed antiques in some of his exhibitions. He was especially recognized for purchasing paintings at auctions for low prices and reselling them to museums and knowledgeable individuals in the art world for considerable profits. For example, he once purchased a painting at auction for twelve dollars and later discovered a signature on it, which he believed to be the signature of Winslow Homer. Therefore, he then spent a notable amount of time studying that artist and his work to validate that the painting was a true Homer. While the absolute validity of the painting as a real Homer remained unclear, it was such a convincing and well-executed piece that he eventually sold it to the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $2,000.
As a part of the Richmond community, Townsend exhibited annually at the Richmond Artists Exhibition. He importantly exhibited at the Hoosier Salon for 20 years as well. On top of winning a Hoosier Salon Purchase Prize (the Psi Iota Xi sorority award), his other awards-all from exhibits of works by Richmond artists-included: the Foulke Prize; the Lontz Prize; and the McGuire Purchase Prize in 1946. Finally, the artist and antique dealer was a member of the Richmond Arts Club, the Richmond Artist’s Association, and the old Richmond Palette Club, at which he one time served as its president.
IMA Research Library Artist Files