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Jean MacKay Henrich

Jean MacKay Henrich

Born: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Jean Mckay Henrich was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was known as a watercolor painter, although she had many other interests and worked in other media, including carving wood, stone, plaster, and cast metals. She saw sculpture as her first love, which she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Antioch College, where she earned a B.A. in Art and Aesthetics.

Henrich produced a female figure for the Geneva Veteran's Memorial. The sculpture is installed in Pulteney Park in Geneva, New York and sculpted out of Georgian pink marble.

She also studied painting and drawing during two summers at the Academie Amadee Ozenfant in Paris, and at the University of Vienna in Austria. In 1954, she earned her M.A. from the University of Buffalo. Henrich became a member of the Buffalo Print Club and worked in print media, including intaglio, and she carved and painted wood engravings. Finally turning to watercolor, she studied for two years with Charles Burchfield at the Art Institute of Buffalo, where they both taught classes.  She painted employing the "wet on wet" technique, in which pigments on the brush are applied to a wet sheet of paper. Her inspiration and overall theme is derived from nature and its elements, mainly belonging to the East Coast or Pacific Northwest: clouds and storms, sands and shoreline grasses, the rocks and water of the shore, and hills and fields. She also painted the Buffalo waterfront and buildings. Like Burchfield's, her landscapes had a lyrical quality; there is a sense of different times of day, shadow movement, shifts in light, and other subtleties.

Henrich's work has been shown in exhibitions throughout the region, including the Burchfield Penney, the Kenan Center in Lockport, and the Members Gallery at the Albright- Knox. She also served as head of the sculpting department for 12 years at the Art Institute of Buffalo, and worked as an instructor of art and art history at the Buffalo Seminary from 1946-1979.  


Jean V. MacKay Henrich (1909-December 4, 2002)

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Grew up in Washington, D.C.
Married John W. Henrich, Jr.


Art Institute of Chicago, studied sculpture
Antioch College, B.A., Art and Aesthetics
Acadèmie Amadèe Ozenfant, Paris, France, two summers
University of Vienna, Austria, Certificate
University of Buffalo, M.A., 1954


Patteran Society, Treasurer for 10 years and in most exhibitions
Buffalo Society of Artists


Buffalo Print Club, active exhibiting member 1937-c. 1950s
The Art Institute of Buffalo, Head, Sculpture Department, 1938-1942; 1944-52
The Buffalo Seminary, taught night classes in sculpture “my first love” 1944-49
The Buffalo Seminary, Head, Art Department, 1946-79

One-Person Exhibitions

1946 Watercolors of California, J. N. Adams Galleries, Buffalo, NY
1954 Sculpture and Watercolors, Junior League of Buffalo, NY
1967 Recent Watercolors, A.A.O. Galleries, Wilcox Mansion, Buffalo, NY
1973 Jean Henrich and Former Students, The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY
1976 Jean Henrich: Recent Paintings (1974-1976), AAO Gallery, Buffalo, NY, August 1-29, 1976
1979 Jean Henrich: Rocks, Surf & Storm, More-Rubin Gallery, Buffalo, NY, April 10-May 12, 1979
1982 Jean Henrich: Watercolors, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, May 15-23, 1982
1984 Jean Henrich: Recent Paintings, Buffalo Seminary Colby Artist–Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, October 3-7, 1984
1986 Jean Henrich: Recent Paintings 1985-1986, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY
1988 Arts Council, Buffalo, NY
1989 Water Color Paintings: Jean Henrich, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, January 14-15, 1989 Jean Henrich: Watercolors, Adams Art Gallery, Dunkirk, NY, September 88-October 1, 1989
1990 Recent Paintings: Jean Henrich, Larkin House of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, November 17-18, 1990
1991 Forty Watercolors, Century Club, Rochester, New York
1996 Paintings by Jean MacKay Henrich, Wilhelmina’s Art Gallery, Seneca Falls, NY, June 2-July 12, 1996
1997 Jean Henrich: A Selection of paintings, sculpture, prints from over sixty years, The Colby Art Program of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY, September 10-October 5, 1997

Selected Group Exhibitions

1934 Annual Exhibition of Artists of Western New York, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 3-April 1, 1934; 87. Larkspur and Hollyhocks, oil; 88. Felice, sculpture

1935 Second Annual Exhibition, Artists of Buffalo and Western New York, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 2-31, 1935; 117. Willows, oil

1936 [Third] Annual Exhibition at Buffalo by Artists of Western New York, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, March 7-April 5, 1936; 119. Eve: The First Woman, sculpture

1976 Patteran Artists, Erie County Savings Bank, Buffalo, NY, April 5-30, 1976

1984 Buffalo’s Waterfront: A Tribute to James Carey Evans, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, November 4-December 2, 1984, Skyway #3, 1984, watercolor, 22 x 30 in., Private Collection

1986 Limited Edition, AAO Art Galleries, Buffalo, NY; Fantasy, Sea and Sky, gouache

1988 Kevin B. O’Callahan and The Buffalo Print Club, Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, October 7-December 4, 1988; 20. All God’s Chillen Got Wings, 1942, wood engraving, 6 x 7 ½ in.; 21. Glassmaker #1, undated, etching, 2 3/8 x 2 ½ in.; 22. Peter Ring Dem Bells, undated, wood engraving, 7 x 5 in.; 23. Roller Coaster, undated, linocut, 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 in., all collection of the artist.

1989 Dortmund, Germany with Niagara Society of Artists

1996 Centennial Exhibition, Buffalo Society of Artists

2000 Robert N. Blair & The Watercolor Tradition in Western New York, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, December 9, 2000-February 3, 2001; Headland, 1976, watercolor, 44 x 30 in., Colby Collection of the Buffalo Seminary

Kenan Center, Lockport, NY

Members’ Gallery, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

Fanette Goldman & Carolyn Greenfield Gallery, Daemen College, Amherst, NY

Villa Maria College, Buffalo, NY

Commissioned Public Work

1938 Geneva Veteran’s Memorial, Pulteney Park, Geneva, New York

Chautauqua County Jail, Mayville, New York


Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY

Library of Congress, Print Collection, Washington, D.C.

Graphic Controls Corporation, Buffalo, NY, Fugue II, watercolor, c. 1980

“In my Fugue paintings I have used a repeated geometric shape to give structure and a bold format to a subtle work. In this instance the shape itself carries the eye into the painting. The inherent transparencies of watercolor provide an ideal medium for the back-and-forth movement.”

Zonta International Headquarters, Chicago, IL

Western Capital Corporation, Bradford, PA

Hodgson, Russ, Andrews, Woods & Goodyear, Buffalo, NY

Penn State Bank Corporation, Titusville, PA

Colby Collection of The Buffalo Seminary, Buffalo, NY

Niagara Trading Corporation, Buffalo, NY

Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

British Embassy, Washington, DC

Charles Rand Penney Collection, Lockport, NY

Private collections in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, and British Columbia


“Lunchtalk,” Burchfield Art Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, April 19, 1988

About a painting of the rocks and surf along the coast of Maine, she spoke of opposing action with space, subdued color in favor of texture. Her work in watercolor had been influenced by Whistler’s watercolors, with subtle colors. She “tried to do something different” by creating strips of sky, land and water, which some people have called “windows.” Her Fugues contain “something you see and then don’t see.” She met Hans Hofmann, who had an influence on her, although she didn’t study with him. The Cubists also were an influence. “I find it important,” she said, “that the artist should leave the brush stroke so it shows.” She worked from her own sketches, never from photographs. Still-life work from the 1950s and 1960s, she felt to be too capitulating: “You can’t afford to be too pretty.” Her daughter and husband bought a cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with spruce and pine trees that were 35-40 feet high. She included dead branches in her paintings of the trees, as “You need some ugliness with beauty.” She painted the mountain ash, or Roan Tree, considered magic by the Celts, who danced around it. The Roan Tree also appears in Shakespeare. She painted the Skyway, and her neighbor’s trash, and was astonished at the results, saying, “I had to establish myself as a painter of rubbish to be in the contemporary scene.” Out of the Deep refers to what you might feel under water. Her newer work of red onions, Australian pine in Florida, silvery surf, swamps, and Maine see pictures were freer in style. She said she “likes to keep the abstract structure.” She recommended Erle Loran’s book, Cèzanne’s Composition: Analysis of His Form, with Diagrams and Photographs of His Motifs (1946).

-Nancy Weekly