Henry Prellwitz

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Henry Prellwitz, Lotus and Laurel, oil on canvas, 1904.

Henry Prellwitz (1865 - 1940) was an American artist known for allegorical paintings and waterscapes of Peconic Bay, New York.

Family and education[edit]

Arthur Henry Prellwitz was born in New York, where his Prussian parents had emigrated.[1][2] Prellwitz studied art at the Art Students League of New York, where his chief mentor was Thomas Wilmer Dewing;[1][2] he later became its director.[3] He also studied at the Académie Julian in Paris.[1][2]

In 1892, he set up his studio in the Holbein Studios building on West 55th Street in Manhattan, where his future wife, the artist Edith Mitchill, also had a studio.[4][5] They married in 1894 and had a son, Edwin.

By the mid 1890s, he was teaching portrait painting at the Pratt Institute,[3] where one of his students was the Cubist artist Max Weber.[2]

Art career[edit]

In 1899, Henry and Edith moved to the north shore of Peconic Bay on Long Island, where their artist friends Irving Ramsay Wiles and Edward August Bell were already established.[5][6] They painted plein air paintings and also worked in adjoining studios at High House, their Peconic Bay home.[5][7]

Prellwitz painted Impressionist and Tonalist waterscapes of Peconic Bay and allegorical figure paintings such as the 1904 Lotus and Laurel. He exhibited mainy on the east coast and at expositions like the St. Louis World's Fair, where he won a silver medal.[2] He won the Hallgarten Prize from the National Academy of Design (NAD) in 1895 and his Venus won the Thomas B. Clarke Prize at the 1907 NAD exhibition for the best figure composition by an American citizen painted in the United States.[8]

Both Prellwitzes disappeared into obscurity for several decades after their deaths in the early 1940s.[7] Rediscovered in the 1980s, they have been called one of the best-kept secrets in art history.[9]

Prellwitz's work is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum, the Parrish Art Museum, and other institutions.


  1. ^ a b c Antiques, vol. 148, 1995, p. 22.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Prellwitz, Henry." The Artists Year Book. Chicago: Art League Publishing Association, 1905, pp. 158, 215.
  3. ^ a b Fitz, H. G. "Free-Hand Drawing in Education". Popular Science, October 1897, p. 755.
  4. ^ Freadman, Richard. Stepladder to Hindsight: An Almost Memoir. Ormond, Australia: Hybrid Publishers, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Edith Mitchill Prellwitz (1864-1944)". Painting in the Hamptons, April 26, 2015.
  6. ^ "Parrish East End Stories". Parrish Art Museum website.
  7. ^ a b Weigold, Marilyn E. Peconic Bay: Four Centuries of History on Long Island’s North and South Forks. Syracuse University Press, 2015, pp. 116-17.
  8. ^ "The Eighty-Second Annual Exhibition of the National Academy of Design." The Burr McIntosh Monthly 13:50, 1907.
  9. ^ Kaufman, Marjorie. "A New Glimpse of the Heyday of the Peconic Art Colony". New York Times, May 14, 1995.

Further reading[edit]

  • Pisano, Ronald G. Henry and Edith Mitchill Prellwitz and the Peconic Art Colony. Museums at Stony Brook, 1995.
  • Pisano, Ronald G. Painters of Peconic: Edith Prellwitz (1864-1944) & Henry Prellwitz (1865-1940). Spanierman Gallery, 2002.