Henry Fitch Taylor
(1853–1925)

Henry Fitch Taylor was an unusually progressive artist for his time. In fact, he was at the forefront of two important American art movements—in the late 1880s he was one of the first Americans to experiment with Impressionism, and in the 1910s, he joined the early modernist movement in America. Taylor was born in 1853 in Cincinnati, where he spent most of his childhood. Though he had some early success as an actor, Taylor soon turned to painting instead, and by the mid-1880s, he traveled to Paris to study at the prestigious Académie Julian. During his stay in France, he visited Giverny where he became close friends with Claude Monet. Under his influence, Taylor began experimenting with the bright colors and loose brushwork of the French Impressionist movement. 

Upon his return to the United States, Taylor rented a studio in New York City and began to exhibit his Impressionist landscapes. In 1909, Taylor was appointed to direct Madison Art Gallery by Clara Davidge, an avid supporter of the arts and Taylor’s future wife. Taylor helped organize a series of successful exhibitions, including the famous and hugely influential International Exhibition of Modern Art, known as the 1913 Armory Show. By this time, Taylor’s own work had shifted from Impressionism to Cubism, and he continued to experiment with various avant-garde art movements such as Orphism and Synchronism throughout the rest of his life. In fact, Taylor was fascinated by innovative theories of color, particularly those exploring the relationship between color and music, and he published a book titled The Taylor System of Organized Color