John Fitzhenry Bentz

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John Fitzhenry Bentz (American, c1857-1950) artist, portrait painter, miniature painter, etcher, photographer and teacher known for his still lifes, landscapes and portraits in watercolor, oil and pastels. He was born circa 1857 in Dublin, OH to William and Adaline (née Fitzhenry) Bentz, and was the oldest of six children. He studied at the Columbus Art School, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Art Students’ League in New York.

Bentz was widely known throughout the U.S. as a restorer of Old Master paintings and was active in Columbus, OH from about 1880-to at least 1893. His first professional work was done in Columbus, in the photographic gallery of the late J.M. Elliott and L.M. Baker. He later served as the official painting restorer for the National Academy of Design and had worked on John Trumbull's famous 1790 portrait of George Washington with castor oil, and also restored paintings by Benjamin West, Samuel F.B. Morse, Rembrandt, Goya, Sargent and Van Dyck. During his career, he created numerous portraits of notable people including: The Vanderbilts, Goulds, Morgans and Fahnestocks.

He won the 1893 Ohio State Fair Award for the “best specimen photograph.”, as well as the Boardman Memorial Medal for the American Society of Miniature Painters and an award for his painting at the 1940 National Exhibition of the California Society of Miniature Painters. He was a member of the Paint and Clay Club and the Columbus Cadets. On January 20, 1946 Bentz was hired by the New York Art Commission to clean paintings in City Hall.

In 1886, Bentz married Elizabeth (née McGrew) and they had two children. His daughter Elizabeth was taught painting by her father and she finished some of his paintings after he passed away on August 1, 1950 in Leonia, NJ.

(Sources: With permission from, prior brief biographical information courtesy of the artist’s great-niece, Sheila Nocks;, online digitized book, Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographical Dictionary, “Bentz, John”, by Jeffrey Weidman, Oberlin College Library, Pg. 78, The Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, & London, 2000.)