Self-Portrait, 1867<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Healy-Self-Portrait.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Self-Portrait, 1867<div class="ExternalClassB20A946173524DDB9C882D8BF7E47972"><p>​The direct gaze and dramatic lighting of George Peter Alexander Healy's 1867 <em>Self-Portrait </em>captures the self-assurance of an artist at the height of his powers. The pose, with his right hand thrust into his coat, was typical in eighteenth-century aristocratic portraiture before it assumed more imperious associations from its use in a famous portrait of Napoleon. For Healy, who had painted European and American heads of state for French king Louis Philippe, the gesture communicates cosmopolitan sophistication. The confident manner in which he applied paint, capturing texture and volume while leaving evidence of brushstrokes, reflects Healy's assimilation of current painting fashion in Paris, a center of the art world for Americans in the Civil War era. </p><p>The son of an Irish ship captain, Healy was born in Boston. He was largely self-trained when, with the encouragement of local patrons, he went to France to begin a brilliant career as one of the most popular portrait painters of his generation. In 1855, a chance meeting in Paris with William Butler Ogden, former mayor of Chicago, induced Healy to try his fortune in the booming young city. The arrival of this internationally acclaimed painter galvanized Chicago's fledgling art life and elevated standards for art along with expectations for the city's future as an art center. In the course of a dozen years in Chicago, during which he was often absent to execute important commissions, Healy painted hundreds of its citizens, reportedly leaving in 1867 to escape his own popularity.1 One of several self-portraits, this work dates to Healy's last year in Chicago and may have been made as a memento to leave with local admirers, one of whom later donated it to the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). Back in Europe, Healy's success continued as he painted crowned heads, celebrities, and even a pope, but he returned to his adopted hometown near the end of his life.</p></div>GP0|#76fb775c-8880-4b31-9329-df12b22a3eef;L0|#076fb775c-8880-4b31-9329-df12b22a3eef|George P. A. Healy;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#9d68cbd3-25f3-49f0-8924-6cbe6cdb2f21;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Art;#TemporaryPainting Oil;#Painting Oil on Canvas;#Chicago, IllinoisOil on canvas, 287⁄8 × 24¼ inches Collection of Chicago History Museum, Gift of Mr. Ezra Butler McCagg