Henry Jay MacMillan was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, and grew up in a family that truly appreciated the arts. His grandmother produced paintings on china that were fired in her own kiln and she passed this interest down to her two children. Eventually both Henry and his sister, Helen MacMillan Lane became professional artists.
Among the many influences in MacMillan's life was Elizabeth Chant. MacMillan studied under her at the age of 13, and at 18, he moved to New York to attend the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. His studies in New York lead to opportunities to study in Paris. After graduating, MacMillan worked as an interior designer and architect, and in 1942 he joined the Army. He was stationed in North Africa, Sicily, and later in Normandy where he was given the assignment to paint military activities. After his military service, MacMillan spent 10 years studying at the Art Student's League in New York, and later became a painting instructor at Parson's School of Design in New York.
MacMillan's work has been exhibited in shows throughout the United States. One-man shows have been held at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina; at Duke University; and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. St. John's Museum of Art in Wilmington, North Carolina held a retrospective of MacMillan's work in 1970 and, again, in 1975.
After a life of traveling the world and living in New York and Washington D.C., Henry Jay MacMillan returned to his roots in North Carolina. He died in 1991 in the same house where he had been introduced to fine art as a child.
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