Lesson 12 Table of Contents Lesson 14

L e s s o n 13


1. Key personalities

Paul Lauterbach, born 1878 in Saxony, worked as a porcelain painter before coming to the U.S. in 1925. Settling in Milwaukee, he became interested in local history and often painted pictures of early life in Milwaukee. He was a WPA Federal Art Project artist during the Depression.

Paul A. Seifert (1840-1921). Born in Dresden, he had been a student in Leipzig before immigrating to America in 1867. Settling in rural Wisconsin, he supported himself by growing fruits and vegetables. As a sideline, he traveled around southwest Wisconsin painting watercolor pictures of farms, which he sold to their owners for $2.50 each.

Fritz G. Vogt (c. 1842-1900). An itinerant artist, Vogt walked from place to place in New York state and made a living by the pictures of homes and businesses, which he sold to their owners. He died in a poorhouse at Mohawk, NY.

Juergen Frederick Huge (1809-1876). Born in Hamburg, Huge came to the U.S. around 1828 and settled at Bridgeport, CT. While working as a grocer, he painted ship pictures which he sold to the owners.

Lewis Miller (1795-1882). A carpenter at York, PA. He is famous for the drawings in color which fill his sketchbooks. He appears to have been of Pennsylvania German background.

Charles C. Hofmann (1820-1882). German-born painter who came to the U.S. in 1860 and settled at Reading, PA. An alcoholic vagrant, he spent the last years of his life at the Bucks County Almshouse, which appears in several of his naive paintings.

Edward Kranich (1826-1891). Born in Germany, he settled at Elizabeth, NJ after coming to the U.S. around 1849. In his landscapes animals often figure prominently.

Severin Roesen (1815-1871). German-born painter of still-lifes, typically showing arrangements of fruit. Settling in Williamsport, PA, he was at first known only as "the Williamsport painter" until research revealed his identity.

Jacob Maentel (1763-1863). A physician born in Kassel, he settled in near New Harmony, IN after coming to the U.S. in the 1830s. He is well known for his many full-length, two-dimensional watercolor portraits.

Frederick Kemmelmeyer (c. 1733-1816). A German-born artist in Baltimore who did portraits, miniatures, and historical subjects. His painting of George Washington reviewing the army at Fort Cumberland is a fine example of early American naive painting.

2. Main trends

Naive artists are generally self-taught and the works of naive artists are often characterized by awkward control of perspective and a refreshingly original use of color. Although they lack artistic training, naive artists are not necessarily people without education.

While folk art tends to follow a closely regulated tradition, the naive artist is often an eccentric who pursues a highly original course of his own. Like folk art, naive art has often been dismissed as "primitive" and its peculiar qualities have only come to be appreciated within the 2Oth century. Nowadays, a talented naive artist may sometimes win critical recognition for his work and may even find buyers willing to pay high prices for it. In the past, however, the typical naive artist earned little or nothing for his work, though some were able to make a modest living from it. Many early naive artists, like Jacob Maentel and Severin Roesen, were largely overlooked by their contemporaries and only gained recognition years later.

Most of the typical naive artists of the 19th century were painters who were aware of the academic art of their time and to some extent tried to imitate it. Lewis Miller stands apart from the rest because he is known for his sketchbooks rather than for easel painting.

Sometimes it is difficult to make a distinction between folk art and naive art. A case in point is the woodworker John Scholl (1829-1916), who made charming whirligigs and similar folk toys. On the one hand, he can be seen as an artist following a folk tradition. On the other hand, the colorful originality of his work seems to place him in the realm of naive art. In fact, it is often impractical to attempt any distinction between folk art and naive art, so that examples of naive art are often to be found in books which advertise themselves as being about folk art.

3. Suggested further reading

Jean Lipman and Tom Armstrong. American Folk Painters of Three Centuries. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1980.

Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester. Primitive Painters in America 1750-1950. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1950.

Jane Kallir. The Folk Art Tradition, Naive Painting in Europe and the United States. New York: The Viking Press, 1982.

Cecelia Steinfeldt. Texas Folk Art: One Hundred Fifty Years of the Southwestern Tradition. Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1981.

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Created: 4 August 1998, SEL
Updated: 17 November 2007, BAS
Comments to: Eberhard Reichmann, reichman@ucs.indiana.edu
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