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James Henry Moser

James Henry Moser was a multi-award-winning American artist known for his landscapes, portraits and also his celebrated illustrations in Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1881).

A prolific and versatile artist, he produced works in pen and ink, oil, pastel, and watercolor. Moser even produced exquisite miniature paintings, sometimes as small as one by three inches.

James Henry Moser
Self-portrait of J. H. Moser
Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: January 1, 1854, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Date, place and cause of death: November 10, 1913, at 1814 "G" Street, Washington, D.C. (Stroke)

Marriage
Spouse: Martha Scoville (m. October 18, 1883* - November 10, 1913) (his death)
Wedding took place in Cornwall, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Family/Relatives
Siblings: George Moser (younger brother)

Sisters: Eda Moser
Augusta "Gussie" Moser

Children
Daughters: Grace Moser (b. March 27, 1886, Atlanta, Georgia - d. October 16, 1968)
Lydia Moser (b. July 26, 1887, Washington, D.C. - d. November 1972)

Parents
Father: John Moser (d. September 1904, of typhoid fever)
Mother: Matilda Gordon Moser

Burial site: North Cornwall Cemetery, North Cornwall, Connecticut, U.S.A.


Error corrections or clarifications

* Several sources erroneously report James Henry Moser married Martha Scoville in 1877. In point of fact, he proposed to her June 23, 1877, but they didn't exchange vows until October 18, 1883.


Biography - Selected Paintings - Residences of James Henry Moser

James Henry Moser entered the world on January 1st, 1854, in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, and was the eldest son of John and Matilda Gordon Moser. His father's work as an architect necessitated a move to Columbus, Ohio, in 1864. John Moser hoped his son would follow him into architecture, but James was far more interested in sketching, painting and exploring the studios of area artists.

In 1875, the Moser family moved to Toledo, Ohio. That same year, James H. Moser began his professional career at a studio he established in the Ketchum bank building. Two years later, he met the woman with whom he'd eventually share the rest of his life. In April of 1877, he was hired to provide painting lessons to Martha Scoville, who was visiting from Connecticut. He later described her as, "the prettiest thing I ever saw." A friendship quickly developed between the two and he proposed marriage June 23, 1877, shortly before she was scheduled to return home. She didn't categorically turn him down, but she did not readily accept his proposal either. During this same period, his parents, younger sister Eda and brother George all moved to Galveston, Texas. His sister Augusta had married Alfred Zucker, an architect, and they settled in New Orleans. After Martha Scoville returned home to Connecticut, James joined his family in Galveston.

The lush, tropical vegetation of the South and the endless stretches of sandy beaches were an inspiration to the young artist and vastly expanded potential subject matter for his work. He and Martha corresponded regularly, with Moser wooing her with sketches and intricate miniature paintings enclosed with his letters. In 1878, trips to New York and Boston proved fruitful, resulting in the sale of more than two-dozen paintings.

The entire family was heartbroken when his sister Gussie died during the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans. Following her death, Alfred Zucker moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was later joined by the Moser family. After two years in Galveston, James was more than ready for a change of scenery. The hills, tall trees and especially the local African-Americans, offered new fodder for his brush. While James enjoyed exploring the Mississippi countryside, business prospects didn't pan out for his father. In a move that would help propel J.H. Moser to fame, the family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia.

He produced a number of paintings that were used in a book to illustrate scenery along the Alabama Great Southern Railroad routes. This brought him a good deal of attention throughout the South. He then met and became friends with author Joel Chandler Harris, who hired Moser to provide illustrations for his book
Uncle Remus. His style of post-Civil War illustrations of African-Americans became so identified with that book that similar future illustrations became known as "Remus style" or "Uncle Remus style." Uncle Remus brought him to national prominence and led to work supplying illustrations to major publications such as Harper's, Leslie's Weekly, Century, and Atlantic Monthly magazines. He now had no difficulty finding buyers for his artwork as a result of his newfound fame.

Now in a position to offer a secure future, he finally married Martha Scoville. The ceremony took place October 18th, 1883, in Cornwall, Connecticut. Their first daughter, Grace, was born March 27, 1886, followed by Lydia on July 26, 1887. One final addition to the Moser family was "Aunt Ellen." She was an elderly former slave hired to assist with household chores and childrearing.

His work caught the eye of Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, the First Lady of the United States. His painting, A Sunny Morning at Salisbury Beach, was purchased by Mrs. Harrison to hang in the White House family living room. As an amateur painter, Caroline Scott Harrison saw an opportunity and hired Moser to give her lessons. He said of her, "I have had a great many talented pupils, but none with more enthusiasm and genuine love for the art. She is careful and conscientious in all her efforts to render truthfully such subjects as she may happen to fancy."

"The Deadly Still-Hunt" and "Where the Millions Have Gone" are among his best-known paintings. The former depicts a hunter taking aim of a large herd of buffalo, while the latter shows the resulting near-extinction of the American bison. He completed them in 1888, and two years later, was hired to produce two large murals of the paintings for the Indian exhibit room at the Smithsonian.

His success afforded him the opportunity to travel the world. He created numerous paintings while traveling in England, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

In 1897, he began supplying illustrations to the Washington Times. Within a year, he was also an art critic for the paper and later acted as art critic for the Washington Post and also wrote for the Washington Herald. By 1898, he was instructor of the watercolor class at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and continued in that capacity until 1913. Moser also served as secretary of the Society of Washington Artists and president of the Washington Water Color Club.

Over the years, his paintings appeared in over 100 exhibitions and venues. In addition to many others, his artwork has been displayed by the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C., the Morrey Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Academy of Design, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Copley Society, the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, the 1904 Universal Exposition in St. Louis, the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon (1905), the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

February 27, 1908, his older daughter Grace married James Milton Fetherolf at the old First Congregational Church. His first grandson, James Moser Fetherolf was born May 13, 1910. His second grandson, Samuel Scoville Fetherolf, was born November 22, 1912, in Ogden, Utah. Just four days later, his younger daughter Lydia married Elmer Vernon Griggs in Washington, D.C.

His summers were usually spent painting in the Adirondacks, Berkshires, the Blue Mountains, or Cornwall, Connecticut. A few years before his death, JH Moser and his wife had a country home built on five acres of land they acquired from her family in Cornwall. Before they were finally able to set up housekeeping in 1911, Jim suffered a mild stoke. It had been their lifelong dream to have a countryside retreat, so it was gratifying he recovered enough to spend that summer at their new country house. Jim and Mattie were also able to spend the next two summers at their hilltop hideaway in Cornwall.

In 1913, Moser experienced a massive stoke after returning home to Washington, D.C. It left him paralyzed and unable to speak. He died November 10, 1913, in his studio at 1814 "G" Street, in Washington, D.C.


In his own words:
"I say it reverently that I am getting close to nature where she reveals herself as supreme art. Undoubtedly, the best art is a direct inspiration from nature and comes not from the personality of the artist." (1898)

"When a skilled craftsman with power to perceive the greater truths hidden in the universe, creates upon canvas something that awakens in the beholder the same emotions he himself has experienced, the painter is an artist." (1906)


Selected paintings and drawings
AN ADOBE HOUSE - SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - 1878
AFTERGLOW ON THE HILLS - 1911
THE ALAMO - 1878
AMONG THE PINES - 1884
APPLE BLOSSOMS
THE ARGUMENT
ATLANTA STUDIO
AUTUMN GOLD
BAND CONCERT - HOTEL CECIL - LONDON - 1896
A BIT OF CORNWALL LAKE - 1897
BLACK BOY - 1882
BLOUNT'S GREENHOUSE - 1892
BLUE ADIRONDACK MOUNTAINS - 1902
BOAT CARNIVAL
BOLKOBURG CASTLE
THE BOOKWORM
BOWL OF DAISIES
BOWL OF ROSES - 1908
A BREAK IN THE STORM - BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS - 1899
THE BUFFALO STUDY
CABIN, HOT SPRINGS MT. VIRGINIA - 1893
CAPE MAY POINT - LIGHTHOUSE - 1891
CHESAPEAKE & OHIO CANAL, GEORGETOWN, D.C.
CLOUDS OVER THE MOUNTAIN
COLONEL HENRY F. BLOUNT
COUNTRY SING
CUPID BEGGING
THE DEADLY STILL-HUNT
86TH STREET, WESTSIDE, NEW YORK - 1892
ENTRANCE TO SCOVILLE FARM
FIREWORKS ACROSS THE POTOMAC - 1902
THE FLATS, WASHINGTON, D.C. - 1890
FORT McHENRY - BALTIMORE
GEESE IN STREET - BOLKENHAIN
GERMAN ROSES FOR MAMA
GIRL WITH MANDOLIN
GRACE
GRACE AND LYDIA PLAYING SUNDAY SCHOOL - 1890
GRACE HOLDING LYDIA
GRACE MOSER - AGE TWO
GREEN BRIDGE LIGHT
HOME IN ATLANTA
LAKE MOHONK AND HOTEL - 1898
LAKE SCENE WITH BOATS - 1893
LINGERING DRIFTS
THE LITTLE ARTIST
LITTLE DUTCH BOY - HOLLAND - 1896
LITTLE GERMAN BOY
LYDIA
MARKET - BOLKENHAIN
MARKET AND PAPER BOY
MARKET SQUARE - BOLKENHAIN
MARTHA MOSER - JUNE 23, 1892
MARTHA SCOVILLE "THAT LITTLE YANKEE GIRL"
THE MILKMAID
THE MOONSHINER
MORNING ON THE ALLEGHENY RIVER
THE MOSER BUNGALOW
MOUNTAIN STREAM - INTERVALE, NEW HAMPSHIRE - 1895
THE OLD MILL - 1898
THE OLD SMITHSONIAN BUILDING - 1895
OLD VIRGINIA FIREPLACE NEAR KEYSVILLE - 1887
OUR PAPER BOY
POE - THE ALLEN HOUSE - RICHMOND, VA. - 1883
POND HILL IN OCTOBER - 1905
POND WITH WATERLILIES
"THE PRINCESS ANN" - VIRGINIA BEACH - 1889
THE READING CLASS
SCOVILLE FARM - 1908
SELF-PORTRAIT
SETTING THE BOX TRAP
THE SORGHUM PRESS ON THE OLD PLANTATION
SPRING EVENING
STEPHEN CRANE - GORDON'S STUDIO
STORM CLOUDS
STREAM IN THE MEADOW
STREET SCENE - BOLKENHAIN - 1896
STREET SWEEPER - BOLKENHAIN - 1896
A SUNNY MORNING AT SALISBURY BEACH
SUNRISE - VIRGINIA BEACH - 1888
SUNSET - MT. McINTYRE - 1907
SUPPER TIME
TRAIN AT WATER TANK - CHICAGO - 1893
VENUS DE MILO, PARIS - 1896
VIEW OF A SOUTHERN MANSION - 1895
WASH DAY - MAY 1897
WASHINGTON WINTER LANDSCAPE WITH CAPITOL
WEDDING PORTRAIT - GRACE MOSER FETHEROLF - 1908
WHERE THE MILLIONS HAVE GONE
THE WHISTLER
WHITE BIRCHES - 1892
WINTER SUNSET - 1897
WOODS IN EARLY SPRING

Selected "Uncle Remus" illustrations
UNCLE REMUS AND LITTLE BOY
OLD PLANTATION PLAY-SONG
CORN-SHUCKING SONG
BRINGING HOME THE POSSUMS


Residences of James Henry Moser
Note that these residences may no longer exist, and it's possible the
addresses have changed over the years. This is not to suggest that Moser owned each and every one of these structures. We're only reporting the fact that he called them home at one point or another in his life.

27 1/2 Whitehall Street, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
71 1/2 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
2604 "I" Street, Washington, D.C.
1519 "P" Street, Washington, D.C.
1220 "G" Street, Washington, D.C.
1814 "G" Street, Washington, D.C.


Sources

The most in-depth of more than two dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile, was James Henry Moser: His Brush and His Pen by Grace Moser Fetherolf (1982)


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