|The Banjo Lesson, 1893,|
|Gateway, Tangier, 1912, |
Like his original inspiration, he traveled around, trying to eke out a living. Much of his time he spent in North Carolina where he painted mostly religious scenes, trying to save enough money to finish his education in Europe. He ended up in Atlanta, Georgia, with an unsuccessful photography studio and a modest teaching position at Clark University. It was there a friend of the family arranged a public showing of his work. Not one painting sold. The friend, in dismay, bought them all himself. With the money, Henry finally made it to Europe where he studied for six years at the Academie Julien. Finding less racism in his adopted country, he remained there the rest of his life. He never changed his style or his subject matter despite the dozens of new art movements swirling about Paris in those years. In 1897, he became only the third American to have a painting purchased by the French Government ("The Raising of Lazarus"). During the war, he was a lieutenant with the Red Cross. Later, his work won numerous awards both in this country and France, culminating in 1923 when he was awarded the French Legion of Honor. He was the first American of any race to be so honored.