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Indiana Governor Portrait Artist: Jacob Cox (1810 - 1892) - Lane

Jacob Cox

Artist, Indiana Governors' Portrait Collection

Henry Smith Lane

Henry Smith Lane (1811-1881)
Governor of Indiana
January 14-16, 1861

Artist: Jacob Cox, American, 1810-1892
oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 29 1/16 (91.8 x 73.8)
Signed and dated l.l.: J. Cox/1869

THE PORTRAIT of Henry S. Lane in the State House was painted eight years after the governor's very brief occupancy of the executive chair. It is the work of Jacob Cox. Governor Baker sent word to Lane at his home in Crawfordsville about the collection of governor's portraits and suggested that Cox make his portrait. Lane answered: "I have received your letter of the 12th Inst. in reference to Painting my portrait, in pursuance of a provision of the last Legislature & I am much pleased with your selection of Mr. Cox as the artist. I will send a large Photograph by Brady which is thought to be a good likeness, ('painfully like the Original') I will give a sitting or two either at this place or Indianapolis as may best suit his convenience at any time which he may designate." (1) It is likely that Lane came to Indianapolis and gave Cox the necessary sittings in his studio.

The portrait represents the venerable governor and senator comfortably seated in a large red chair, holding a cane in his left hand. He looks out of the frame with deep-set, intelligent eyes, the white hair and beard contrasting with the dark shadows of the background. His pose is lifelike and his attitude amiable and gracious.

This study of Lane is the sixth and last portrait by Jacob Cox in the State House collection. It is the only one of his work made specifically for the collection.

Jacob Cox was born near Philadelphia in 1810, and his youth was spent in Philadelphia and in Washington, Pennsylvania. When he was about twenty years old, he went by boat, with his bride and his brother, from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati.

In 1833, they came to Indianapolis, where the brothers established a stove, tinware, and coppersmith business. Jacob had displayed some talent for art in his boyhood days, but he was persuaded to take up a more practical trade and was discouraged from taking instruction in drawing and painting. The tinware establishment was very successful here, but Jacob found his eagerness to paint overshadowing his interest in business, and spare moments given to sketching and reading art books multiplied until painting became the dominant interest of his life.

He opened a studio in Indianapolis in 1835 and began his long career as an Indiana painter, which was interrupted by a short stay in Cincinnati in 1842. His reputation grew rapidly, and within a few years he became the leading artist of Indianapolis, receiving many important commissions and attracting to his studio most of the art students of the period. He retained his popularity until his death in 1892.
For more detailed information on Jacob Cox, see Wilbur D. Peat, Paintings by Jacob Cox - A Retrospective Exhibition of Work by and Early Indianapolis Artist, (ex. cat.) Indianapolis, John Herron Art Museum, November 8-30, 1941.

(1) Lane to Governor Baker, August 16, 1869. Governor Baker's correspondence.

Source: Peat, Wilbur D. Portraits and Painters of the Governors of Indiana 1800-1978. Revised, edited and with new entries by Diane Gail Lazarus, Indianapolis Museum of Art. Biographies of the governors by Lana Ruegamer, Indiana Historical Society. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society and Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1978.