Hermann Herzog (1832-1932)

Hermann Herzog (1832-1932)

Born in Bremen, Germany, Hermann Herzog began to study painting in Düsseldorf in 1848, with Schirmer, Lessing, Achenbach, and Gude. He was deeply influenced by his teachers who urged him to travel in search of “scenic beauty and inspiration,” and he chose landscape painting as his primary subject. In the flush of early success, Herzog exhibited paintings in Germany and France, winning a prize at the Paris Salon of 1863. He counted Queen Victoria, the Grand Duke Alexander of Russia, and other members of royalty among his patrons. While still living in Germany, Herzog sent paintings to the Pennsylvania Academy’s annual exhibitions from 1863 to 1869, establishing an American market for his work.

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Possibly prompted by the Austro-Prussian War and the resulting civil unrest, he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1869. They settled in Philadelphia and Herzog began traveling widely throughout the eastern United States painting scenes of Niagara Falls, Lake George, the Chesapeake Bay, New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the Maine coast in his meticulous, polished style. Interested in capturing atmospheric moods, he would wake at three in the morning, and set up his materials outside to capture the first light of dawn. In the mid-1870s, Herzog made his first trip out West, discovering the breathtaking, mountainous landscapes of Utah, Oregon and California’s Yosemite Valley, and towards the end of the 19th century he began producing Florida landscapes inspired by the region’s tropical, lush foliage. 

Nature was Herzog’s chosen muse and the varied landscapes that he painted, whether the jagged fjords of Norway, the exotic riverbanks of Florida, the majestic cliffs of Yosemite or the tranquil shorelines of the East Coast, attest to his versatility and talent. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Herzog often included figures in the compositions not as tiny intruders but as welcome guests with their own clear identities, existing in harmony with their surroundings.

In addition to the Pennsylvania Academy, Herzog occasionally showed at the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association, and won a bronze medal at Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876.  Today his work can be found in several museum collections, including the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Orlando Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.

References: See Who Was Who In American Art (1986) and Donald S. Lewis, Jr. “Hermann Herzog (1831- 1932) German Landscapist in America,” American Art Review 3, no. 4 (July/August 1976): 52-66; American Paintings of Hermann Herzog, Brandywine River Museum catalogue, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, 1992, with essay by Donald S. Lewis, Jr.

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