HENRY THOMAS SCHAFER
Henry Thomas Schafer (1854-1922) was born in Bloomsbury, London. His name is sometimes spelt Schäfer or Schaefer, offering confusion with an artist of the same name and period from France who specialised in city scenes and cathedral interiors in Belgium, Germany and France. The famous “Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres…” by Emmanuel Bénézit merged both artists together, allowing for confusion in today’s art market between these two very distinctive artists.
The English painter, Henry Thomas Schafer was the son of a London tailor, Adam Schaefer, who originally came to England from Waldeck in Germany. Schafer lived in north London throughout his life and was a renowned painter, sculptor and also worked as a picture restorer. At the age of fifteen Schafer was apprenticed to the painter, art dealer and picture restorer Raphael Pinti, to whom he remained in the employment of until his masters death in 1881. Under Pinti’s instruction, Schafer assisted in the restoration of many notable artworks in the National Gallery of London’s collection, including Vincenzo Catena’s Warrior Adoring the Infant Christ and Andrea del Sarto’s Portrait of a Young Man. Pinti also worked for various private clients, and upon Pinti’s death Schafer continued to work as an independent picture restorer as well as an artist in his own right.
Schafer is best known as a genre, figure and still life painter, who predominantly painted young ladies in mythological guise or in timeless draperies rather than the fashions of the day. This classically inspired style of figurative painting is much indebted to Schafer’s artistic education under Raphael Pinti, but also shows a distinct influence of the mythological paintings of French Neo-Classical artists, such as Ingres. Schafer is also known to have painted portraits of notable members of London’s elite in the last decades of the nineteenth-century.
Schafer exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition between the years of 1875 to 1915. Throughout his career, forty-eight artworks were exhibited, with Schafer’s sculptures also exhibited in 1889, 1893 and 1899. Schafer also exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1911 and at the Royal Society of British Artists.
In 1900 Schafer published a paper on the subject of picture restoration; Notes on the Cleaning, Restoration and Preservation of Paintings, a copy of which is kept in the National Portrait Gallery Archive. In 1917 Schafer changed his name to Henry T. Dover, and under this name he published two further articles on picture restoration shortly before his death.