JOHN HENRY DOLPH1835 1903
John Henry Dolph is best known as painter of domestic animals, especially cats. He was born in 1835 in Fort Ann, New York. At the age of fourteen, following the death of his mother, Dolph left his home in Ashtabula County, Ohio, to work as a decorative painter of coaches and carriages. In 1855 he studied in Cleveland with Allen Smith and took up portrait and landscape painting. He painted in Detroit and Cleveland from 1857 to 1861. In 1863 he moved to New York City and attracted attention with his scenes of American rural life. Dolph studied in Paris and Antwerp for five years, where Von Kuyek tutored him in animal painting, particularly horses. Returning to New York City in 1875 Dolph devoted himself to painting dogs and cats, often blending bits of humor into his works. Due to the popularity of his cat paintings Dolph became the “leading cat-painter of America.” Dolph was an active member of the New York art scene and helped organize the Society of American Artists. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, and exhibited there from 1864 until the year of his death. Other memberships included the Lotos, the Salmagundi, and the Kit-Kat Clubs. He exhibited and won a medal at the Pan-Am Expo in 1901 in Buffalo. Heart disease would plague Dolph for years, and in his final days he became frustrated when he could not finish a painting of a favorite dog. He died in New York in 1903 in the home of a close friend. His daughter, Florence, donated a majority of his works to The University of Nebraska Art Collection. His work is also represented in the collections of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Newark Museum, New York Historical Society, Portland Art Museum, Walters Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.