CORBIN, General Henry Clark

Three-quarter-length standing in uniform. Oil on canvas, 127cm x 101.6cm (50” x 40”), signed and dated 1904.

National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.

Mrs Henry Clark Corbin (Edythe A. Patten), donated to National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. in 1941, transferred to National Portrait Gallery in 1971.

The Broadway Magazine, March 1904, p.455 (reproduced as Major-General Corbin)

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The sitter, who born on September 15, 1842, was an officer in the United States Army who served as Adjutant-General of the United States Army from 1898 to 1904. He was born in Monroe Township, Ohio and was teaching school and studying law when the American Civil War broke out. Corbin volunteered as an infantryman in July 1862 and by November 1863 he was commissioned as a major. He rose to be colonel, and participated in the Battle of Decatur and the Battle of Nasville. He left the service in March 1866. In May 1866 he joined another infantry regiment, but Corbin was appointed to the official staff of President Rutherford Hayes, serving at the White House from 1877 to 1881. He was attending Hayes’ successor, James A. Garfield when Garfield was shot in 1881, and was present at his death. He became a major in the Adjutant General’s Department in June 1880, serving in the Department of the South and the Department of the Missouri. He was promoted to lieutentat colonel in June 1889, serving in the Department of Arizona, the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington, and the Department of the East. In May 1896 he returned to the Adjutant General’s Department in Washington as a colonel. He was elevated to Adjutant General of the U. S. Army with the rank of brigadier general in February 1898. He was promoted to a major general in June 1900. He took command of the newly created Division of the Atlantic in January 1904, then was given command of the Division of the Philippines in November 1904. He took command of the Northern Division in February 1906 and was promoted again in April 1906. He retired in September 1906, and died on September 8, 1909 in Washington DC, and is is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Painted two years before this soldier retired.

Muller-Ury was reported in the New York Journal, April 8, 1902 as going ‘…to Washington next week to finish his portrait of General Corbin.’ It seems not impossible that the artist did execute another portrait of Corbin (aside from those of 1899 and 1904) as a letter in the artist’s papers, written on March 28, 1902 says:

‘My dear Mr. Ury:

Because I haven’t answered your letter of February 11th, you must not take the omission as lack of interest in its contents. It came to hand just as I was leaving on the trip with Prince Henry, and I am now only getting caught up with matters that were before me when I left.

Mrs. Corbin wishes me to say to you that we are quite ready to have you come and pay us a visit at your early convenience. The sooner you come, the better it will suit us. We can put you up at any time, and I can give you sittings as you may desire. I think we can get the frame here to as good advantage as in New York, however, as to this we will determine when you come…’

The question remains as to whether the present portrait was started in 1902 and for reasons unknown not finished until 1904 or whether there really was another portrait painted in 1902.