Henry Balink was born in Amsterdam, Holland. His parents were outwardly opposed to his becoming an artist, and as a result Balink funded his own education at the Art Institute of Rotterdam through bicycle racing and ice-skating. In 1909, Balink entered the Royal Academy in Amsterdam on the Queen Wilhelmina Merit Scholarship. He graduated in 1914 and immediately began working as a professional artist in Holland.
The onset of World War I prompted Balink to immigrate to America where he would work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and later paint murals for the Art Institute of Chicago. Balink, however, soon developed a fascination with the American West after viewing a poster in a railroad station. As a result of his interest, Balink stayed briefly in Taos, New Mexico, in 1917 and returned on occasion until he permanently settled in Santa Fe in 1924.
Balink's extensive training in the Dutch Old Master tradition of painting made him a skilled draftsman and prepared him for the complexity of his chosen central theme, the American Indian and its culture. Regarded as one of many talented painters of the American Indian, Balink produced penetrating portraits and wonderful landscapes that represent over sixty-three different Native American tribes.
Balink always painted from real life and his paintings are known for their sense of immediacy and purity of color. His portraits are recognized for their strong sense of character. The browns and grays of his early work gave way to a much brighter palette in New Mexico. Interestingly, Balink also created wonderful pieces of furniture and often carved his own frames.
Balink died in 1963 in Santa Fe. His work can be found in many collections, as well as in museums such as the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Actively seeking works by Henry Balink