The portrait of Denbigh shown on this website's homepage was painted by Thomas Cantwell Healy (1820-89), a
northern artist who worked throughout the South during the Civil War. Healy was born at
Albany, New York, but at the age of four moved to Boston with his parents, William and
Mary Healy. In 1838 Healy traveled to Paris to study art with his older brother, George
Peter Alexander Healy. After a year her returned to Boston, where he opened a studio and
exhibited paintings at the National Academy of Design and the Boston Athenĉum. From 1843
on, Thomas Healy traveled and lived extensively in the southern states, making his living
as a portraitist in Louisiana and Mississippi.
|In early 1861 Thomas Healy and
his brother George were in Charleston, South Carolina. After the bombardment and surrender
of Fort Sumter, the brothers parted ways. George, holding northern sympathies and strong
anti-slavery views, returned to Boston, while Thomas remained behind. One of Thomas
Healy's first portraits of the war period was one of Confederate General P. G. T.
Beauregard (left, Louisiana Historical Society), based on one his older brother had
completed a short time before.
|George Peter Alexander Healy
(1813-94) returned to Boston and continued his career as a portraitist. George P. A. Healy
painted some of the most prominent American leaders of the period, and many of his
portraits hang today in leading galleries and collections. George P. A. Healy's portrait
of Abraham Lincoln (right, National Portrait Gallery), completed more than 20 years after
the president's assassination, is one of the best-known representations of the Great
Thomas C. Healy's portrait of Denbigh is dated at
Mobile, Alabama, July 29, 1864, and is believed accurately to depict Denbigh's
appearance when running the blockade in 1864-65. The painting shows Denbigh
running out of Mobile with a full cargo of cotton. In the distance, at left, a Union
blockader fires a futile shot after Denbigh.
The painting is dated just three days after Denbigh
sailed from Mobile for the last time, and only a week before Union Admiral David
Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron entered Mobile Bay and ended Mobile's days as a
The Denbigh portrait is part of a private
collection, and is used here with permission.