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William Henry Baker

William Henry Baker was a itinerant Grand Manner portrait painter active in the New Orleans area during the nineteenth century.

William Henry Baker

Courtesy of Roger H. Ogden Collection

The Carr Children. Baker, William Henry (artist)

William Henry Baker probably embarked on a career as an artist in 1848 without benefit of training, though he later studied at least informally in Europe and with Enoch Wood Perry, Jr. in the early 1860s. Like other Grand Manner painters such as William Rumpler and Joseph Henry Wright, Baker usually depicted children in a landscape setting attended by a large dog.

This style appealed to wealthy plantation owners, such as Oliver Miller White and his Canadian wife, Elizabeth Mary. The couple had moved to New Orleans from Kennebunk, Maine, about 1848. White flourished as a commission merchant and was part owner of the steamboat J. Morrissett. They no doubt wished this portrait to commemorate their progeny in a fashionable, complex artistic style—despite Baker’s limitations as a painter. Two of the children, seen on the right, were no longer living. Orlando in had died in1852 at the age of four and a half years, and Mary Julliet died in 1856 at the age of five years. As was common at the time, Baker probably created their likenesses from miniatures or photographs.  Baker died in Brooklyn, New York in 1875.