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Robert Henri was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1865, and died in 1929. Best known as a member of the Ash Can movement. He studied art at both the Pennsylvania Academy of Art and the Ecole des Beaux Arts. After his schooling in Paris, he came back to Philadelphia in 1891, and began teaching at the Women's School of Design there.

Heavily influenced by the prominant realists of the day, most notably Thomas Eakins, Henri saw art as a "social force," and encouraged students of the Ash Can School to use their art to realistically influence the world around them. He especially favored urban scenes. Artists influenced by his work include Edward Hopper and George Bellows. In 1898, Henri moved to New York City, and began working at the New York School of Art. When John Sloan, one of Henri's students, became the editor of a local art journal, The Masses, the Ash Can style became more widely known, thus forwarding the career not only of Henri, but of Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Robert Minor, as well.

The Armory Show in 1913 included several works by Henri, and was inspired by him and many of his like-minded contemporaries. Henri later taught at the Ferrer Center and the Arts Students League, where he taught until just before his death. He published one influential book, The Art Spirit, in 1923.