John Henry Dolph
American, 1835-1903
“Puppies and Kitten”
Oil on canvas; 14 ¼ x 22 inches
Signed lower left

John Henry Dolph is best known as painter of domestic animals, especially dogs and cats. He was born in 1835 in Fort Ann, New York, and spent much of his career there, although from 1857 to 1861, he worked in Ohio as a portrait and landscape painter. Moving to New York City in about 1865, he attracted attention with his scenes of American rural life, especially farm genre and animal life. Then for five years Dolph studied in Paris and Antwerp, where the Belgian painter Jean Louis van Kuyck (1821-1871) tutored him in his specialty of animal painting.

After returning to New York City by 1872, Dolph’s dog and cat subjects became so popular that finally he devoted himself exclusively to it and was described as the “leading cat painter in America” in the September 1894 issue of the Quarterly Illustrator. Active in the New York art scene, he had a studio in the Sherwood Building in Manhattan, but also kept a country home on Long Island. He was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1877 and a full member in 1898.