Untitled Document

Artist Biography


Elizabeth M. Kornhauser, American Paintings Before 1945 in the Wadsworth Atheneum (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996)

Lee M. Edwards, et al, Domestic Bliss: Family Life in American Painting 1840-1910 (Yonkers, NY: Hudson River Museum, 1986)

George Henry Story was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and at fifteen, worked as an apprentice to a woodworker for three years before he began his formal training with portraitists Louis Bail and Charles Hine. Story studied in Paris for a year in 1858, then returned to set up a studio in Portland, Maine. After two years he relocated to Washington D.C., where he received an important commission to paint President Lincoln’s portrait. He visited Cuba and Trinidad in 1862, and then finally made his way to New York City, where he was based for the remainder of his life.

Story gained recognition both as a portraitist and a genre scene painter. His genre works show his obvious talent for figural depiction, though they are narratives constructed with an allegorical purpose or a moral message rather than portraits of specific sitters. The latter typically entailed the inclusion of details that would boast of material wealth, whereas genre paintings required more humble scenes. Rustic settings were ideal; both the setting and the subject of Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They are Hatched are classic features of the kind of genre painting popularized by Pieter Brueghel and other masters of the Dutch Golden Age. Story demonstrates his easy style, and ability to draw attention to the sequence of events with focal highlights on the cherubic boy’s shirt front, the startled chicken, and of course, the falling eggs. As most people know, the lesson is a meaningful one, and variations can be found throughout time and across many different cultures. Story has illustrated the proverb in its purest form, and does so in a very endearing way.

His paintings are in the collections of such venerable institutions as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery and The White House in Washington, D.C.