Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



The Fine Arts


This sketch would not be complete without reference to the condition of art among us, as an evidence of culture and progress. Wtihin a decade of years, the city has advanced in the fine arts to a remarkable extent, and several gentlemen of refinement and culture have added to the attractions of their homes quite a number of very choice and costly art works, conspicuous among which were many very beautiful and exquisite oil paintings, Messrs. B. H. Warder and J. W. Bookwalter being among the leading and most prominent collectors. Mr. B. H. Warder's collection of paintings were mostly imported direct from Europe by himself. The majority of the pictures in his possession are from the studios of eminent German artists. Conspicuous among them are the following well-known names: We have, in a large painting, by Adelsteen Norman, an admirable rendering of a Norwegian scene, a lake of sparkling fresh water among the snow-clad mountains, a large and very vigorously treated picture; a large canvas by Carl Boker, with a deep vein of humor running through it; it tells its own story on sight; another very large picture by Hugo Katzenreuter, peasants bringing tithes to the monastery, is an admirable work of art; a superb cattle piece by A. Braith, of Munich, king of cattle painting; also, a strong and excellent piece of cattle painting by J. H. L. DeHaas, one of the most eminent cattle painters of the day; a beautiful and enchanting spring morning, representing a German home among the peasantry, thatched roof, etc., a lovely picture, by C. Matchin, of Weimar; and others, by such masters as Schlessinger, Carl Hoff, F. Voltz, F. Schauss, Meyer Von Bremen, Meyerheim, Vautier, Otto Gunther, J. Geizer, G. Major, P. Van Chendel, P. G. Compte, Ch. Hoguet, Herman Kalbauch, Hugo Kauffman, P. Robbe, Alfred Bohm, Herman Ten Kale, Louis Lassalle, Louis Ritter Koek-Koek, A. Kowalski, M. F. H. DeHaas; an exquisitely beautiful painting by A. Amberg, of Berlin, the "Lovers by the Lake;" a fresh out-of-door effect by E. Chialina, and yet a number of other pictures by as many more artists, and bronzes, clocks and bric-a-brac in endless array. Mr. Warder is in possession of three paintings by F. Schauss, and two by Schlessinger. The Kowalski has been thus far Mr. Warder's last purchase, having procured it at Gaupil's, New York. It is a small canvas, and is treated very artistically. The subject is "The Vidette Outpost." Three mounted scouts have proceeded as far as has been considered safe, and, while one of them is left in charge of the half-weary looking chargers, the other two proceed to some distance; clambering up on a rocky eminence, they survey the surrounding landscape by the light of the newly risen full moon, apparently with the design or purpose of locating the enemy's outpost pickets and familiarizing themselves with the lay of the ground. There is a ghostly weirdness suggested by the picture — a vague feeling that danger is lurking about the rock and bushes. The time of year seems to be early November — a windy, cheerless night, comfortless and gloomy; the artist has reproduced the whole incident with admirable skill and faithfulness. Of the collection of paintings in the possession of Mr. John W. Bookwalter, much can be said in praise of the good taste and judgement evinced in their selection. With only a few exceptions, they are excellent works of art, and, as they are grouped together on the walls of the beautiful picture hall, or gallery, which Mr. Bookwalter caused to be constructed for the above purpose at the residence of Mrs. James Leffel, on Maple avenue, North Side, they are shown to the best advantage that good light, properly introduced, and tasteful and intelligent grouping, will admit.

Among the leading pictures will be found L. Knau's "Old Beau," painted in 1851, at Dusseldorf; not a very large canvas, but certainly a very valuable one, artistically and pecuniarily; the treatment is very masterly; the colors are brilliant as though painted yesterday. The leading personage in the painting is the one that gave the picture its name; the "Old Beau" stands quite erect, with feet pompously set apart, a quaint-looking skull cap set jauntily upon his head, and an immence button-hole bouquet stuck in the lappel [sic] of his coat, with scarlet waistcoat, long stockings and big shoes with buckles; he is airing himself ostentatiously before two young ladies, one of whom is apparently attentive enough, while the other but illy conceals her repugnance at his assumption; the female figures are posed on a garden seat in the shadows, while the light falls full upon the "Old Beau's" very ugly and repulsive countenance, and about his shoulders and bouquet, seeming actually like real instead of painted light. It is a peculiar picture, this, one moment attracting you by its wonderful painting and consummate art, the next moment you are repelled by the hideous "mug" of the conceited egotist.

The picture has quite a history of its own. The last owner but one of the "old Beau" was Mr. John Taylor Johnston, of New York, who exhibited it, with a number of other paintings, at the loan exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, on Fourteenth street, in centennial year.

The "Story of the Battle," by Julian De Vriendt, is also a very fine picture, and a very costly one. "The Mountain Brook," by A. Bierstadt, is the largest canvas in the collection, and is considered one of Mr. Bierstadt's very best efforts.

"The Embroidery Lesson," by Hugues Merle, is also a large canvas (for this collection), and is a really very beautiful picture, in Merle's most characteristic style. "Six Weeks till St. John's Day," by Hughes, is a full life-size bust portrait of an old woman in extreme Dutch costume, counting upon her stout fingers the number of weeks as yet until St. John's Day. It is an admirable piece of painting, wonderful, and wonderfully realistic.

"The Beach at Newport," by William T. Richards, of Philadelphia, is an extremely characteristic picture, not only in its resemblance to Richards' best style of sea-coast painting, but also in its likeness to nature.

"The Convalescent," by Felix Schlesinger, is full of emotion and sentiment — a picture that would endear itself to any person in a short time on account of the tender feeling in the subject, and of the charming and vigorous manner in which it is rendered.

There is a fine moonlight scene by L. De Winter. The "Iconoclast," by the late and lamented Emanuel Leutze, is said to have been one of the artist's best efforts. It is certainly a most effective and masterly production. A Puritan father returns to his home to find his daughter upon her knees before a small shrine in ivory, representing the crucified Christ upon the cross. The angry father rushes into the room, and with his left hand he grasps his daughter by the arm, and, with his gauntleted right hand fiercely clenched, he at one blow is about to crush the forbidden emblem.

Cherictrie's picture of children and the doll is an exquisitely lovely work of art. They are endeavoring to teach the doll how to warm its hands at the fire, and the artist has certainly succeeded in presenting the scene in a very wonderful manner. It doesn't seem like paint, but nature. The treatment is very realistic.

The "Duet," by A. Gues, of Paris, a pupil of Gerome, is also a very finished picture, and painted in the artist's most careful manner.

Among the smaller paintings, yet not an iota less attractive, are such pictures ad "The Donkey Boy of Cairo," by F. A. Bridgeman, a young American artist, of whom all Americans should be proud. He has spent the last dozen years of his life in Europe, and has taken a very high position at home and abroad as an artist of very great merit, and still greater promise. The "Donkey boy of Cairo" is a picture which in every respect is truthful in subject and detail. The boy, while waiting for a passenger, has tucked himself into the corner of a doorway, to avoid, as much as possible, the tropical rays of the sun, while the donkey (the street-car of Cairo) stands reined up, arrayed in the gaudy trappings so peculiar to oriental countries. The façade of the old building gives one the idea, to some extent, of the peculiar style of building and ornament of many of the older structures of the ancient capital of Egypt.

John F. Kensett, our great and lamented landscape painter is represented in a boradly treated picture called the "Secluded Brook." The manner in which it is painted suggests the Munich school very much.

C. Billouin, in the "Bookworm," shows one what can be done in good drawing and extremely close treatment. It is a very wonderful piece of painting.

Vrolyk's "Cattle" are real, and his sunlight is really warm, and his shadows cool and comfortable. It certainly is a very fine picture. V. Condina Laughlin "Christening," Wordsworth Thompson's "Political Consultation," V. Chavet's "Connoisseurs," Eastman Johnson's "Young Housekeeper," "The Cavalier," by Leon Y. Escosura, "On the Beach," by F. H. Kammerer, as well as the "Coquette, or Springtime," by the same are all very admirable works of art, and really deserve a much more extended mention.

There are still other as fine pictures in the same collection, viz., J. C. Thom's "Winter Sunset," "The Sisters," by A. Boulmouche, "Early Devotion," by Meyer Von Bremen, "Sunset on the Rhine" and "View on the Delaware," by A. C. Houland, "Evening in the Campana," by J. F. Cropsy, "Scene on the Nile," by Theodore Frere, "Winter," by A. Schenck, "Wood Scene," by E. D. Nelson (finished by Kensett), "Autumn," by William Hart, "Bashful, yet Fond," by George H. Baughton, "Venice," by C. P. Cranch, "Waiting at the Rendezvous," by Worms, "A Venetian Lady," by Jean Aubert, "Straits of Gibralter," by Samuel Colman, "The Young Navigator," by J. S. Guy, "Adirondacks," by A. H. Wyant, and two of a series of four pictures representing the seasons, by J. W. Casilear.

Mr. Bookwalter also has half a dozen very fine water-color drawings, by such artists as Emile Adan, W. H. Powell, T. Moran, etc.; also a beautiful statue, "A Young girl's First Sensation of Cold Water," modeled in the true Italian school of genre art; the finish is completeness itself; the texture of skin, hair, linen, earth, water, etc., is as perfect as can apparently be done in marble. Mr. Bookwalter has still other paintings. "After the Raffle," a French painting, by Maurice Leloir, a brother of Louis Leloir, both very eminent artist. Another is an old man's head and shoulders, life-size. He wears jeans coat and vest, muskrat fur cap, and a smile — almost a grin. The picture throughout is a perfect wonder of close painting; every detail is put there with the utmost fidelity. Q. Becker is the artist. There are said to be only a very few of this artist's works in America. The companion piece to it, an old peasant woman's head, same sized picture, is in August Belmont's gallery, Fifth avenue, New York.

An exquisite little picture by A. Savini, among Mr. Bookwalter's last purchases, is a gem, a Meissonier in finish. "The Lovers' Tete-a-tete," a young lady sitting at a spinning wheel, while her lover bends over her in true cavalier-like elegance, and whispers something apparently infinitely interesting to her, as her tell-tale face indicates. They are dressed in seventeenth century costumes.

"The Shepherd," by Tiratella, "The Sunset in the Bahamas," the latter painted to order for Mr. and Mrs. Bookwalter, by Albert Bierstadt, very tropical, and also very typical of the West India Islands at certain seasons of the year.

"Absorbed," by E. Leutze, is a very charming work; a young lady sitting in a library engaged in perusing a book; a canary bird sits on the chair she is sitting in, singing as though its little throat would fail under the ordeal. And a "Moonlight," by A. Bierstadt, about completes this brief and incomplete notice of the Bookwalter collection of paintings.

Mr. John Foos, of East High street, has, on the walls of his palatial residence, several very excellent paintings. One very fine landscape by an Italian artist of eminence, T. Diano, is worthy of a place on the walls of any gallery in the State. The scene depicted so graphically is evidently located in Switzerland. There is quite an expanse of country in the foreground; then comes, in the grand distance, a mass of snow-clad mountains, all aglow with sunlight, such as is seldom as perfectly painted on canvas. The clouds lift themselves joyfully from the dizzy mountain heights, while the foreground is all alive with a turbulent stream of green water, fresh from the newly melted snows and avalanches on the mountain heights. On the left side of the picture is a rough, rocky roadway, with a rude shrine in the wayside, and a group of peasants in a devotional attitude before it; and in the distance come into view a peasant with a straw basket held on his head, and a flock of sheep following him in close proximity. It is a very strongly painted and excellent picture.

Mr. J. J. Barber, landscape and cattle painter, of Columbus, Ohio, is also represented here by three very good pictures, in his characteristic and best vein. A marine picture by Nicholson, of Philadelphia, is a foggy morning on the ocean, and a very good picture. Mr. Foos also owns one of our former townsmen's, the late Godfrey N. Frankenstein, best efforts, a scene on Buck Creek (the Lagonda below the city). Also a wooded glen, a quiet retreat, by Uhl; a babbling brook, rippling along through the middle foreground of the picture.

William Warder, Esq., of East High street, has in his possession what evidently has been handed down to us from the old masters. The subject is "St. Peter," with the inevitable bunch of keys clasped in his fingers.

An eccentric picture collector, a Mr. Joseph Phillipson, an early resident of St. Louis, a gentleman of culture and wealth, in about 1814 had represented to him by a German gentleman that he know of a collection of old masters' works, some four hundred in number, which could be purchased at a very low figure. Mr. Phillipson went to Paris and purchased the entire collection for $14,000, and brought them to St. Louis. Afterward, having failed in business, he was compelled to part with a large part of the collection. This happened about twenty-five years ago. They were scattered broadcast over the land. Mr. Warder's mother purchased the above picture at the time, afterward coming into his possession. The name of the artist has unfortunately been lost, but the picture is very old, as is evident from its having been re-backed, the old canvas becoming entirely too frail to hold the paint. It is certainly a wonderfully painted and excellent, as well as capitally preserved, picture. It is no doubt a work of great value intrinsically.

Capt. A. S. Bushnell is the fortunate owner of the replica of David Neal's famous painting of the finding of Rizzio by Mary Stuart. It is a medium-sized canvas, but it is a gem a masterpiece of draughtmanship and color, admirable in design, and full of the literature of the subject.

Two paintings, considerably larger in size, entitled "Going to" and "Coming from the Fair," by Breitback, tell the story they are intended to tell perfectly. They are well painted. It is a very cheerful and exhilarating sight to see the fresh and bright-looking young people start out in pairs (and paired in the good old way) for the fair, with their countenances full of happiness and hope, full of anticipations of the pleasures of the day; everything seems so bright and promising; then comes the second scene — the return from the fair by the pale light of the moon, so tired and weak — entirely discouraged. The young men have imbibed too freely during the day, and now must be assisted home by the young women. The rendering of maudlin drunkenness in the latter canvas is admirable.

A small but exquisitely painted picture, by Lossow, a full length figure of a lady, in a costume of the eighteenth century, in a boudoir, all of which is very charmingly rendered.

A lovely mountain landscape, painted in Hertzog's best style; small, and there certainly is enough material in it to fill a much larger canvas, which suggests its richness and fullness.

Mr. Bushnell owns a wood interior, with a hunter on the trail, accompanied by a dog. It is a very sparkling and attractive painting. The picture is painted by Claugh, an American artist of fine reputation.

There are also several other paintings in the above collection — one by Hugo Kauffman, "The Return of the Veteran," with both head and arm in sling. The picture is small, and painted on a panel.

Also, a good cipy of A. Amberg's "Lovers by the Lake," by Uhl; the original is in the possession of B. H. Warder, Esq.

Mr. Bushenll anticipates adding to his collection of paintings at intervals, as new pictures come before him and please his fancy.

Localizing art to Southwestern Ohio, and more importantly to Clark County, Ohio, and to Springfield as the radiating point, we find that among the earlier exponents of art were the portrait painters Sweet, Brannan, Robert, Craft, John Frankenstein, C. T. Webber; and among the painters of landscape, etc., were Godfrey Frankenstein, Miss Mary Spencer, Miss Eliza Frankenstein.

Among the former, Sweet died very young, in 1843, at the Exchange Hotel, leaving a number of unfinished commissions in portraiture, among them the portraits of the then proprietors of the hostelry, Mr. Jason P. Phillips and wife. His very early efforts indicated that he was quite talented.

Brannan's ability was not to be questioned. In his portraits, he gave evidence of great ability; strong, graceful, realistic, his productions were masterly. A few examples of his skill in portraiture yet remain in the city to attest to his merits.

John Frankenstein was a great painter. In portraiture, he was very masterly — a modern Michael Angelo. There are very few, if any, of his works to be seen in the city at this time. He was a very peculiar man, and, during the last years of life, lived secluded in New York City. On the 16th day of April, 1881, he was found dead in his room in that city, surrounded with many works of his art from his own easel.