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Henry Varnum Poor (1887 – 1970)

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

22. Plate with Ram (Untitled), c. 1929

Glazed and incised ceramic, 8 ½ inches diameter, signed and dated “HVP 29” lower right and verso, inscribed with “35.” verso


About the Artist

Henry Varnum Poor was born in 1887 in Chapman, Kansas. He studied at Stanford University, the Slade School in London, the American Academy in Rome, and the Académie Julian in Paris, where he earned awards for his work. Poor held a position as an art professor at Stanford at several points during the 1910s. In 1918, he was drafted into the army where he served in France as an interpreter and artist. After returning to the U.S., Poor worked as a ceramicist where he created functional pieces for daily life, usually decorated with modernist motifs. In 1929, he traveled to France with his family for a year where he rediscovered his love for painting. Upon returning, Poor held his first show as a painter at New York’s Rehn Gallery where he established his career as a painter and ceramicist. His work was exhibited throughout the country including at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Corcoran Gallery. Poor’s work is held in dozens of museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Several of his mural commissions for the Treasury Department’s Section of Fine Art are installed in the Department of Justice and Department of Interior buildings. President Roosevelt appointed Poor to the Commission on Fine Arts as an artist-member. He later was named head of a group of military artists during the Second World War. Poor is listed in Who Was Who in American Art and all other standard references.


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