Henrik Mayer was born in Nashua, New Hampshire and took his art training at the Manchester Institute of Arts and the Yale School of Fine Art. He studied in Europe as a Winchester Fellow before accepting a teaching position in New York City where he also served as designer and decorator of the New York Cosmopolitan Club. In 1934, Mayer moved to Indianapolis where he became assistant director under Donald Mattison at the Herron Art School. During this period, Mayer exhibited his paintings at the Hoosier Salon, Herron Art Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery Biennial, and the National Academy of Design where he won a prize. He also accepted mural commissions at such places as the post office building in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1946, Mayer moved to Essex, Connecticut, where he became director of the Hartford Art School of the Wadsworth Athenaeum. He later became dean of the Art School of the University of Harford in Connecticut and also served as director of the Wadsworth Athenaeum.
Mayer admired the work of the American artist George Bellows and frequently referred to illustrated books on his work Picnic on the Allegheny, in its robust composition and dramatic view of nature, owes much to Bellows’ example. Mayer conveys the force of the approaching storm through the rapid darkening f the landscape, the wind-filled trees in the foreground and the picnickers’ frantic packing A later, somewhat larger version of this painting received national critical attention and won the Altman Prize at the National Academy of Design in 1938.
Judith Newton and Carol Weiss. A Grand Tradition: The Art and Artists of the Hoosier Salon, 1925-1990, Indianapolis: Hoosier Salon Patrons Association, Inc., 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0963836007