Henry Varnum Poor was an American architect, painter, sculptor, muralist, and potter. Poor attended Stanford University, where he graduated with a A.B. degree in 1910. He studied painting at the Slade School in London and under painter Walter Sickert, then attended the Académie Julian in Paris. He returned to the United States in 1911 and taught art at Stanford University before moving to San Francisco to teach at the San Francisco Art Association. Following military service in World War I, he settled in Rockland County, New York, and focused on ceramics. In the late 1920s, Poor gained recognition as a painter and eventually turned to murals; he was commissioned to paint twelve murals in the U.S. Department of Justice and the mural Conservation of American Wild Life in the Department of the Interior during the 1930s. During World War II he was head of the War Art Unit of the Corps of Engineers. He served on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1944 to 1945. In 1946 Poor was one of the founders of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and taught at Columbia University. Poor was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a resident fellow in visual arts at the American Academy in Rome from 1950 to 1951. He was a visiting faculty member at Mills College as part of the Summer Sessions program.