Harry Worthmann ( 1909-1989)
About Harry Worthmann ( 1909-1989)
Oil on board. Dimensions: 11”H x 16”W, overall size is 17” x 21”. Signed lower right, dated 1956.
Artist was born in New York City, and growing up in Rensselaer, New York, near the town of Albany, Harry Northman (1909-1989) knew early in life that art was to be his career. After graduating from high school, Worthman attended the Art Students League in New York City, studying under such well-known artists as George Bridgman, Dean Cornwell and Frank Vincent Dumond. He also studied at the National Academy of Design and the Cooper Union, both in New York City. In 1948, Worthman moved to Texas where he finished out his career. Primarily a portrait artist, Harry Worthman produced his finest works in that genre. He left many sketches and pastel studies, some of which rival in quality the finished works in oil. Together, they portray images of famous individuals, such as Lyndon B. Johnson, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, J.C. Penney, Alan Shepard, Ann Landers, and Texas governors John Connally and Price Daniel, as well as Norman Rockwell in the TMA-owned painting Norman Rockwell in His Arlington, Vermont Studio, 1946, (Tyler Museum of Art, 2003.23). Many other prominent families, primarily in Texas and Louisiana, but also throughout the Southwest, as well as in England, Mexico and Japan, commissioned Worthman portraits. One of Worthman's most important portraits is of his father at age 82 titled Basket of Tomatoes, Louis Worthman (1885–1979) (1946, Albany Institute of History & Art). The image of a weathered farmer at work, carrying a basket full of tomatoes on his shoulder, exemplifies both the artist’s attachment for his family roots and the influence that family had on him throughout his career. His self-portrait titled What Next? (1968, TMA) also in this exhibition, portrays the artist seated in front of a blank canvas, surrounded by elements that represent his everyday environment, the center of his creative output––his studio. The studio was to Worthman what the farm was to his father. Although portrait work was his main preoccupation, Harry Worthman nevertheless maintained an interest in landscapes and produced excellent examples in sketches, pastels, watercolors and oil. He said, of landscape paintings, "after a series of exacting portrait commissions, it is like a vacation to go out and paint the eternal truths that God reveals in Nature." It is in his paintings and drawings of scenes in Texas that Worthman found a distinct creative artistic vocabulary. Landscapes with sweeping vistas capture the unique geographic character of this great state. From coastal scenes to scenes of the mountains far west of Galveston, the Texas paintings by Northman stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any majestic paintings produced by other well-known Texas artists.