Henry Greaves was born in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea; the son of a boat builder and waterman. He was two years older than his brother, the better known artist Walter Greaves. Both men began their careers as boat builders, but turned to painting after meeting the painter and printmaker James Abbott McNeill Whistler in 1863. They became studio assistants of the celebrated artist, during which time he taught them to paint in an impressionistic style. Whistler eventually withdrew his support of the Greaves brothers. Despite a commission for both brothers to paint murals in Streatham town hall, Henry enjoyed little success as artists. He died in 1904, a year after Whistler, in his sixtieth year.
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