Mark Robert Harrison (1819 - 1894)

Birth date: 1819 Death date: 1894  
Birth location: Hovingham, England Death location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin  
Media: Painter Web site:
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Biographical Brief

1839 - 1842 Studied at the Royal Academy in London

Studied: Toronto under Colby Kimble, New York under Henry Inman


Mark Robert Harrison

Born 1819 in Yorkshire, England

Died 1894 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Born in Hovingham, in Yorkshire, England, Harrison came to North America at age three.  He and his parents lived in Hampton, New York and Hamilton, Canada.  He studied painting in Toronto under Colby Kimble and was a student of Henry Inman in Rochester, New York for five years.  Returning to England, he perfected his studies at the Royal Academy in London from 1839 to 1842 under the tutoring of Charles Hilton. Back in Wisconsin, Harrison suffered two major setbacks when his paintings were destroyed by fire in 1844 and a failed business venture building and operating steamboats on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh. In 1952 Harrison settled in Fond du Lac where he spent the rest of his life secluded at his home studio.

Harrison’s paintings depict religious and historical subjects as well as views of the American west.  He also drew from the natural surroundings and painted many pictures of lake scenery, especially in Fond du Lac, on the shore of Lake Winnebago.  Harrison was also involved in a less orthodox art form - the diorama (oversized paintings on specially treated canvas with lights surrounding the painting for various effects.)

One of Harrison’s most famous paintings, Burial of Hiawatha, was based on a Henry W. Longfellow poem.  Other Harrison works include the 1879 Cain and Abel (owned by the Canadian government), Gathering for the Warpath, and Cleopatra’s Triumph. He is also known for his painting First House in Fond du Lac, which is on display at the Galloway House in Fond du Lac, which maintains a substantial collection of his work.

In 1858 Harrison joined an Art Union which sold 160 of his paintings throughout the country.  Most of the time he would place his paintings in area business locations and hope someone would like them enough to buy them.  He was plagued by poor business skills and constant money problems.

© 10/22/2007 Museum of Wisconsin Art,  West Bend, Wisconsin                                                                      April 12, 2010

Wisconsin Affiliations

Wisconsin Art Organizations

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