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Gallery Text

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.

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
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Publication History

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

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

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Ivan Gaskell, Sara Schechner, and Sarah Anne Carter, Tangible Things: Making History through Objects, Oxford University Press (NY) (New York, 2015), pp. 172-173, 177 repr. p. 173 as fig. 137

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

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu