Henry Collins

Henry Collins, c. 1736. John Smibert (1688-1751). Oil on Canvas. The Gladys Moore Vanderbilt Széchényi Memorial Collection.

Henry Collins (1699-1764) was a Newport merchant, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. He was nicknamed, “Newport’s Lorenzo de Medici” for his generous and enthusiastic patronage of the emerging cultural life of colonial Newport. He donated the land on which the library was built, once known as a bowling green.

John Smibert, considered one of the earliest American portrait painters, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He began as a common house painter and eventually gained admittance to the Great Queen Street Academy and Thornhills London Academy, where he was a fellow student of Hogarth. IN 1738 he came to America with Reverend George Berkeley, landed in Newport, and settled in Boston, where he died in 1751.

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