James Henderson

About the Artist

James Henderson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1871. Henderson showed an early aptitude for sketching and drawing, which led to an apprenticeship in lithography. At the same time he took night classes at the Glasgow School of Art. He was employed from 1894 to 1909 as an  engraverAn artist who engraves - a method of cutting or incising a design into a material, usually metal, with a sharp tool called a graver. One of the intaglio methods of making prints, in engraving, a print can be made by inking such an incised (engraved) surface. It may also refer to a print produced in this way. Most contemporary engraving is done in the production of currency, certificates, etc.  (Artlex.com)  and lithographer in London before immigrating with his wife to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1909.

In 1910 Henderson moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, where he took on  commercialPertaining to making money, i.e., creating art in order to sell it, rather than creating art for purely aesthetic purposes.  art assignments and  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  commissions. His visits to the nearby Qu’Appelle Valley persuaded him to move to the  picturesqueIn general, this may refer to any scene which seems to be especially suitable for representation in a picture, especially that which is sublime. It is especially associated with an aesthetic mode formulated in the late eighteenth century which valued deliberate rusticity, irregularities of design, and even a cultivated pursuit of quaint or nostalgic forms. Such pictures became common in nineteenth century Europe and America. Examples can be found among the American painters of the Hudson River school — Thomas Cole (1801-1848), Jasper Cropsey (1823-1900), and Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) — and of the Rocky Mountain school — Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) and Thomas Moran (1837-1926). (artlex.com)  valley community of Fort Qu’Appelle in 1916.

Henderson is best remembered for his landscapes of the Qu’Appelle Valley, which he painted in all seasons and at every time of the day. He also painted landscapes in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario’s Muskoka Lakes region. Writer Arthur Hayworth described Henderson’s landscapes as being, “…faithful interpretations of nature with more than a touch of magic, in the great  traditionTradition is the passing along of a culture from generation to generation, especially orally. Or, a custom or set of customs handed down in this way. The idea of heritage is related to that of tradition. Any activity — as a pattern of celebration, ritual, or other behaviour, etc. — is traditional once it is a precedent influencing comparable activities in the future. (Artlex.com)  of the Canadian as well as the British and European nature-painters.” (Hayworth, 1958)

At the peak of his career Henderson was widely known for his portraits of  First NationsFirst Nations is a contemporary term referring to the Indian peoples of Canada, both status and non-status (definition from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada). To find out more about Canada’s First Nations, go to: Assembly of First Nations: http://www.afn.ca/ Village of First Nations: http://www.firstnations.com/ Canada’s First Nations: http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/firstnations/ Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Nations   people. He exhibited portraits at the 1924 and 1925 British Empire exhibitions at Wembley in England, where the Group of Seven first received international recognition.

Henderson’s works are included in several major collections, including the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. He is considered “Saskatchewan’s pre-eminent first-generation artist.” (Lanigan, date unknown) Henderson is also notable as the first artist in the province to make a living solely from his art. He was also the first to gain national and international recognition for his work.

In 1941 the Standing Buffalo First Nation near Fort Qu’Appelle made Henderson a honourary chief, naming him Wiciteowapi Wicasa, “the man who paints the old men.” He also received a honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1951 for his achievements.

Henderson died later that year and was buried overlooking the valley at Fort Qu’Appelle.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning