The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Howard Helmick, 1845-1907

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1845
Place of Birth: Zanesville, OH
Date of Death: 1907.04.28
Place of Death: Georgetown, Washington DC


Howard Helmick was a painter and etcher.


Helmick, who specialised in figure painting, was active in exhibiting between 1880 and 1889. He showed in London at the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, and the Society of British Artists, the latter society which elected JW its President in 1886. He also exhibited with the Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery. In 1879 he was elected a member of the Society of British Artists and in 1881 of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers. He was later appointed Professor of History of Art at Georgetown University.

In 1880/1 Helmick expressed to JW his appreciation for his work, possibly inspired by an exhibition, such as Etchings of Venice, The Fine Art Society, London, 1880, or Venice Pastels, The Fine Art Society, London, 1881 (#11498). A set of 'Six portraits of T. Carlyle', etched in a rather naive style by Helmick, were published by the Etcher's Society in Arundell Street, Haymarket, in 1881 (Private Collection). JW's Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137), engraved by Richard Josey (1840-1906), reproductive engraver [more], had been published by H. Graves and Co. in December 1878. The common subject and their mutual involvement in etching and print publication provided points of contact between JW and Helmick. They were sufficiently friendly for JW to suggest Helmick came to live in the same building in Tite Street in 1881 (#11789).


Houfe, Simon, 'Whistler in the Country: His Unrecorded Friendship with Lewis Jarvis,' Apollo, vol. 98, no. 140, October 1973, pp. 282-285; Johnson, J., and Anna Greutzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994; Houfe; Morris, Edward, American artists in Europe 1800-1900, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1977; Hopkinson, Martin, No Day Without a Line: The History of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers 1880-1999, Oxford, 1999, p. 53.