Colorado & Regional Art

Untitled (San Luis Valley, CO)

Untitled (San Luis Valley, CO)

Year 1885

Artist Helen Henderson Chain (1849-1892, American)

Media oil on linen

Dimensions 20 x 39 3/4 inches

Helen Henderson Chain was Colorado’s first female resident artist. Born in 1849 in Indianapolis, Indiana, she studied with Hudson River School painter George Innes before moving to Colorado with her husband James A. Chain. In Denver, she painted and taught out of her husband’s business, the Chain & Hardy Bookstore, which sold art supplies and became a hub for artists. She befriended and taught fellow landscape painter Charles Partridge Adams. Chain was a mountaineer, climbing Colorado’s mountains in her long skirts in order to paint en plein air (on location, outdoors). Chain was the first non-native woman to summit the Mount of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. She was also the first woman to exhibit paintings at the National Academy of Design in New York, showing two New Mexico pueblo scenes in 1882. She and her husband died in 1892 when their ship wrecked in a typhoon while traveling in Asia.

Not currently on view

Signature Signed "Chain." lower right corner

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2008.0040