The Message
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Edward Lamson Henry, American (Charleston, SC 1841 - 1919 Ellenville, NY)
The Message
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Level 2, Room 2100, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Painting and Photography in an Era of Social Change
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on board
23.5 x 30.5 cm (9 1/4 x 12 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r. E. L. Henry 93
Gift of the artist to Beers Brothers, framers; gift of one of the brothers to his daughter; her gift to William Beers Crowell, her son; his gift to Gilbert Gabriel; his sale to Mrs. Norman B. Woolworth, New York; private collection; Alexander Gallery, New York; their sale to Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., 1999; his gift to Fogg Art Museum, 2003.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Theodore E. Stebbins Jr.
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

Label Text: 32Q: 2100 19th Century , written 2014
The Message, which Henry completed soon after traveling to the South to observe the process of Reconstruction, is a more ambiguous work than The Invalid. Though the title calls attention to the folded letter in the boy’s hand, the contents of this “message” are not clear. Nor does Henry specify the letter’s recipient. Like the two figures who stand behind the fence in the background, the viewer witnesses the scene only from a distance.

Publication History

Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc., The American Painting Collection of Mrs. Norman B. Woolworth, exh. cat. (New York, 1970), p. 31, no. 46

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Virginia Anderson, and Kimberly Orcutt, ed., American Paintings at Harvard, Volume Two, Paintings, Drawings, Pastels and Stained Glass by Artists Born 1826-1856, Harvard University Art Museums/Yale University Press (Cambridge, MA and New Haven, CT, 2008), p. 140, cat. 104, ill.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), p. 35

Elizabeth McCausland, "The Life and Work of Edward Henry Lamson N.A., 1841-1919", New York State Museum Bulletin, University of the State of New York (Albany, NY, September 1945), no. 339, No. A-258, p. 292

Exhibition History

Harvard Collects American Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/09/2003 - 02/22/2004

Tangible Things, Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Cambridge, 01/24/2011 - 05/29/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Artstor Digital Library

Google Art Project

Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted