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Henry Dexter Portrait

Henry Dexter

Nelson, New York 1806

Cambridge, Massachusetts 1876

Luce Artist Quote

“My mother had told me . . . that no one could do it who was not born under a particular star. I did not know what star ruled at my birth, but I felt that I could paint a picture if I had the colors and could see the way in which they were used.” Henry Dexter

Luce Artist Biography

Henry Dexter was an unlikely candidate for an artist. At sixteen, he was indentured as a blacksmith in order to support his family. At the end of a four-year apprenticeship he was extremely skilled in his trade, but no happier and in no position to try something new. It wasn’t until he was thirty that Dexter was finally able to study the arts. He had imagined himself a painter, but discovered his real gift was sculpting. In 1859, Dexter decided to embark on an ambitious project: He would travel to every state in the Union to model a bust of each governor. It was a dangerous venture, as the country was on the brink of the Civil War, but Dexter was undeterred. He successfully completed his project and the busts were displayed in the Massachusetts State House.