Hennepin County Historical Society

Minneapolis, MN

(612) 870-1329


This essay was originally published in 1988 by the Hennepin County Historical Society, Minneapolis, MN. Reprinted with permission of Hennepin County Historical Society


Robert Koehler: Artist in Milwaukee

by Peter C. Merrill


Robert Koehler (1850-1917) was a notable artist and art teacher who for twenty-two years was the director of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, now known as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Koehler was the outstanding artist in Minneapolis during his lifetime. In this article, an effort will be made to present an account of Koehler's career, including the influences which shaped him as an artist and the influence which he himself exerted on other artists of his time.

Koehler was born in Hamburg on November 28, 1850. His father, Ernst Köhler, was a machinist who had grown up in Potsdam and settled in Hamburg as a young man. His mother, Louise Bütor Köhler, was born in Hamburg, the daughter of a mason. Robert was the second of the four children in the family. Throughout his life he was close to his sister, Marie, but neither he nor his sister got on well with their older brother, Amandus. The youngest of the four children in the family was a daughter who died in infancy.

In 1854 the family immigrated to the United States and settled in Milwaukee, where Koehler attended the German-English Academy. The drawing instructor at this liberal, non-sectarian school was Henry Vianden, a native of Bonn who had been an art student at the Munich Academy. Vianden was locally much admired as a landscape painter and was for many years the leading art teacher in Milwaukee. At the age of fifteen, Koehler became an apprentice in a lithography firm, but continued to receive instruction from Vianden, who encouraged him to study in Munich. Later he also took lessons from Heinrich Roese, who had a portrait studio in Milwaukee in 1869 but died shortly thereafter. Roese encouraged Koehler to work in fresco painting and also did much to encourage the young artist to seek further training.[1]

Koehler served his apprenticeship as a lithographer and engraver with the firm of Seifert and Lawton. Henly Seifert was a native of Saxony who had learned lithography in Germany and was a pioneer lithographer in Milwaukee. While Koehler was working for him, Seifert was in partnership with James Lawton, though this partnership ended around 1869.

In January 1871 the Milwaukee Sentinel reported that Koehler had been elected president of a local Young Men's Association. [2] Soon afterwards he left Milwaukee to take a job as a lithographer in Pittsburgh. Later the same year he went to New York for an eye operation and afterwards stayed on in the city, living at 248 West 35th Street. He continued to work as a lithographer and at the same time took evening classes at the National Academy of Design, where his teacher was the genre painter Lemuel Wilmarth. Wilmarth, though born in the United States, had studied in Munich. In the fall of 1873, after he had saved enough money, Koehler himself went to Munich to become an art student at the Royal Academy. Some years later he had this to say about his decision to study in Europe:

My ambition on going to Munich was to be a first-class lithographer. I had been an engraver for about eight years, but desired to devote myself entirely to crayon work instead, which was more fascinating, beside paying well, too. But I was now living in a different atmosphere. Business, money-making, wealth and luxury seemed to live entirely outside of our sphere, which appeared to propagate that one desire: to study, to advance, learn to do and to be something.[3]

Matriculation records indicate that Koehler was enrolled at the Munich Academy on October 15, 1873. His first teacher was Alexander Straehuber, an Austrian who had been a professor at the Academy since 1868 and was a graphic artist and lithographer as well as a painter. Koehler has left us the following account of his first meeting with Straehuber:

Early in the morning after my arrival I took my roll of drawings and went to the academy, a somber looking old pile of stones - a former monastery. The janitor decided that Professor Straehuber was the man I wanted to see. With all the imposing dignity of his office he conducted me to the studio door and after tapping with becoming respect he left me to wait. I waited a long while.
"You are too late, my class if full; you had better go to the Kunstgewerbeschule and come again next year," the professor said.
But I had not come all the way from America to wait another year. "Will you look at my drawings?"
"Well, let me see, perhaps I can give you some advice. Undoing the roll, he mustered them - antique drawings, life drawings, the result of a year and a half's study at the night school at the National Academy.
"I see, I must again grant an exception." he finally said and signed my application.[4]

After two years in Munich, Koehler's funds were exhausted and in 1875 he returned to Milwaukee, where his parents were still living. Soon, however, he went back to New York.

New York city directories indicate that Koehler was living there between 1876 and 1879. His home address was at 122 Waverly Place, just west of Washington Square. He continued to support himself as a lithographer, but also became one of the founding members of the Art Students' League.[5] During the years in New York Koehler also found time to become associated with the Arion Society, a well-known German-American musical group. Koehler had a strong interest in music and was particularly enthusiastic about Wagner's operas. As a student in Munich he had gone to the opera as often as he could afford it. In 1878 the Milwaukee Sentinel reported that Koehler had recently completed portraits of William Cullen Bryant and of Matthias Stein, a pioneer settler in Milwaukee.[6]

A close friend of Koehler's in New York was Edwin Henes, treasurer of the Hell Gate Brewery, at that time one of the largest breweries in the world. Henes introduced Koehler to George Ehret, the wealthy immigrant owner of the brewery, and Koehler became a frequent guest at Ehret's home. Ehret was impressed by the young artist's talent and offered to provide him with the financial backing necessary for a further period of study in Munich.

Koehler returned to Munich in 1879 and entered the painting class of Ludwig von Löfftz, a native of Darmstadt who was known particularly as a painter of landscapes and genre scenes. Koehler was later enrolled in the composition class of Franz von Defregger, an Austrian who was famous both as a painter of historical subjects and for his colorful genre paintings of peasant life in his native Tyrol. Like Löfftz, he had only recently been appointed to a professorship. It has sometimes been reported that Koehler was also a pupil in Munich of Carl Theodor von Piloty, an eminent professor who was appointed director of the academy in 1874.[7] This has not been fully documented and Koehler himself never seems to have made such a claim.

Koehler proved to be an apt pupil and was awarded bronze and silver medals by the academy. He exhibited frequently in Munich and in other German cities. He was president of the American Artists' Association in Munich and belonged to various other art associations, including the Radiererverein (Society of Etchers). In 1883 and again in 1888 he was in charge of the American division at the Munich International art exhibitions, for which the Prince Regent of Bavaria bestowed on him the Cross of the Order of St. Michael. During the 1880's he made at least two trips to the U.S. in order to arrange for American paintings to be exhibited in Munich. From 1887 on he was in charge of a private art school in Munich in which most of the students were Americans.[8] One of these may have been Charles Schreyvogel, who later became well known for his paintings of western subjects. Another artist who may have been one of Koehler's students in Munich was Alphonse Marie Mucha, a Czech who became famous in Paris for his graphic work, especially posters.[9] Among Koehler's personal friends in Munich was the American artist William Merritt Chase, who, like Koehler, had been a student of the National Academy of Design in New York.

During Koehler's second Munich period he matured as an artist and developed a characteristic style. His initial breakthrough to success was due to his skill as a portrait artist and for his depictions of Munich street life.[10] At the Café provides an example of the latter type of picture. A fashionably dressed woman and two male customers, one in uniform, are shown relaxing at café tables, while the street outside is seen through a window.[11] The First Guests presents a similar scene, in which three early customers are shown at a table in an outdoor restaurant. The prevailing mood is again one of comfortable repose. Both paintings date from around 1887. It has been suggested that the man at the left in The First Guests may have been the American artist Frank Duveneck.[12] It appears doubtful, however, that Koehler was ever well acquainted with Duveneck in Munich.[13]

One of the earliest of Koehler's portrait studies is Head of an Old Woman, painted in 1881. The loose brush technique, then fashionable in Munich, leaves the outlines slightly indefinite. The same year he painted A Holy-Day Occupation, in which Koehler's skill as a portrait artist is put to use in the creation of a genre scene. The painting, which shows a Bavarian peasant reading the Bible, is not entirely free of Biederneier sentimentality. Basically, however, the painting reflects the same sort of optimistic realism in the treatment of peasant life which is so pervasive in the work of Koehler's great Munich contemporary, Wilhelm Leibl. The same sort of optimistic realism can be found in The Bohemian Peasant Girl and Homeward Bound, two genre pieces which probably also date from the 1880s. The two paintings may even be companion pieces, one showing a farm girl as she happily sets off to work in the early morning, the other showing her return from the fields at dusk. The Socialist, painted in 1885, is a straightforward genre piece which presents its subject realistically and objectively. There is neither romanticizing nor ridicule in this interesting study, which also testifies to Koehler's mastery as a portrait artist.

A number of Koehler's genre pictures show working people. Twenty Minutes for Refreshments shows a construction worker taking a break, while The Carpenter's Family shows a working-class mother and child in a carpenter's shop. Her Only Support shows a seamstress and her young daughter waiting anxiously while a mechanic sees if he can repair her sewing machine. The picture was painted around 1881 and was exhibited in New York at the National Academy of Design in 1883.[14] Koehler's interest in working-class life is also apparent in his painting Smithy in the Bavarian Highlands. Here the picture is on a grander scale and one is immediately reminded of Adolf Menzel's 1875 painting Eisenwalzwerk, a famous depiction of workers in a German rolling mill. Menzel had discovered the drama inherent in modern industrialism and Koehler was one of the earliest painters to follow his lead. Two of Koehler's contemporaries, the American artists Thomas Anschutz and Charles Frederic Ulrich, were working along parallel lines and also produced realistic scenes of modem industrial life. Koehler may have known both artists personally, as both received part of their training at the National Academy of Design. It is almost certain that Koehler knew Ulrich, who was in Munich during the early 1880s.

Koehler's most famous painting of this type is, however, The Strike, completed in Munich in 1898. In early references to the work, the title is sometimes given as Arbeitersteik in Belgien (Workers' Strike in Belgium). Koehler, however, has left us the following account of how he came to paint this picture:

The Strike was in my thoughts for years. It was suggested by the Pittsburgh strike [of 1877]. Its actual inception was in Munich and there the first sketches were made. I had always known the working man and with some I had been intimate. My father was a machinist and I was very much at home in the works where he was employed. Well, when the time was good and ready, I went from Munich over to England and in London and Birmingham, I made studies and sketches of the working man -- his gestures, his clothes. The atmosphere and setting of the picture were done in England, as I wanted the smoke. The figures were studied from life, but were painted in Germany. Yes, I consider The Strike the best, that is the strongest and most individual work I have yet done.[15]

Koehler, however, does not appear to have personally witnessed the Pittsburgh strike of 1877, as he had left the city several years before and was at that time living in New York.

The painting was exhibited in several cities in both Germany and the U.S. When it was shown in New York in 1886, the reviewer for the New York Times praised it as the 'most significant work of this Spring exhibition."[16] It received an honorable mention at the Paris Exhibition of 1889 and later that year it was shown at the Milwaukee Exposition.[17] In 1893 it was exhibited at the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts purchased the painting in 1901 and it was subsequently presented to the Minneapolis Public Library.

The Strike is a large narrative painting which depicts a group of agitated workmen confronting a man in a silk top hat, presumably the owner of the factory shown in the background. A worker's wife, with two small children, stands at one side, while the wife of another worker is seen anxiously remonstrating with her husband. One of the workmen is picking up a stone from the ground. Certainly there is something new here that is not found in other paintings of industrial life from this period. Koehler has chosen to show us a side of modern industrial life which involves political and social issues. The painting is both dramatic and a vivid social document of its time. The workers are sympathetically presented and it is difficult to suppress the conclusion that Koehler must have been a man of liberal ideas.

The immediate impulse behind Koehler's pictures of the urban proletariat seems to have been the realist tradition as exemplified by such Munich artists as Leibl and Defregger. But Koehler, who had grown up in an urban, working-class environment, was never as good as his teachers when it came to painting peasant genre scenes. It was when he extended the realist tradition to the kind of urban, working-class subject matter that was genuinely a part of his own experience that Koehler was able to break new ground and to find his real voice.

But despite his liberal-minded sympathy for working people, Koehler was not a political radical. His father had been a free-thinker, but Koehler himself is not known to have expressed any radical views.[18] When asked once about his political and religious principles, Koehler stated that he was an independent in politics and Protestant in creed.[19] Koehler's many pictures of working people were not primarily intended as political statements.

Some commentators, however, have seen The Strike as an ideological statement and have assumed, for that reason, that ideological considerations must have weighed heavily in Koehler's work. Among those who have taken this view is Peter Weiss, the celebrated author of the play Marat/Sade. In his book Die Ästhetik des Widerstandes, a political memoir presented as a novel, he recalls how a copy of The Strike was put up in the kitchen when he was a child. Weiss begins by giving an objective description of the picture, but objectivity soon dissolves into a flight of fancy in which the National Guard is imagined to be lurking unseen behind the factory-owner's house, ready to crush the workers. Weiss goes on to inform us that Koehler ended his life in poverty, a statement which disregards facts.[20]

In 1892 Koehler returned to New York and established himself as a portrait artist. Soon afterward he came to the attention of Douglas Volk, a celebrated portrait painter who was the director of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts. Volk had become dissatisfied with Minneapolis, both because of the uncertain financing of the art school and because of the limited opportunities there for portrait commissions. In 1893 he resigned from the directorship and moved to New York, where he joined the faculty of the Art Students' League. For his replacement he recommended Koehler to the Board of Trustees. Koehler went to Minneapolis to assume his duties in the fall of 1893.[21]

While visiting Oberlingen on Lake Constance in 1886 Koehler had met Marie Fischer, whom he would later many. She had been born in Rochester, New York. Her father, a civil engineer, had at one time been an American citizen, but had returned to Germany in later life. When Koehler met her, Marie Fischer had been working as a teacher in Hungary for the last six years. After their meeting, Koehler kept up a correspondence and in 1894 they became engaged. The wedding could not easily take place in Germany, as there would have to be a six-month wait due to Koehler's being a foreign citizen. So it was arranged for Marie to travel to New York, where she was the guest of Koehler's old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Henes. The wedding took place at their home on September 17, 1895 and was performed by a German pastor. After the wedding, Koehler and his bride took a boat up the Hudson to Albany. Later they traveled to the Midwest, stopping to visit relatives in Chicago and New York before going on to Minneapolis.

The Koehlers' first home in Minneapolis was at 204 Grant Street. Since 1889 the School of Fine Arts had been located on the third floor of the new Public Library, which stood on the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 10th Street. Koehler's private studio was nearby at 719 Hennepin Avenue. In 1897 the Koehlers built a new house in German Renaissance style which included a studio. Koehler lived in this house at 4816 Portland Avenue for the rest of his life. The Koehlers' only child, Edwin, was born in 1898 and was baptized at the Universal Evangelical Church. Edwin Koehler was later educated at the University of Minnesota, became a mechanical engineer, and worked for the Hartford Insurance Company.

Koehler was popular with his students and often took part in their social gatherings. Koehler and his wife liked to attend symphony concerts and events at local musical clubs. Often they entertained visiting art celebrities. They had many friends in Minneapolis, but generally lived a quiet social life. In the evenings Koehler often played chess with his wife. Koehler had been born with a club foot, which inhibited his movements. While he was living in Minneapolis, his club foot was surgically amputated and he was fitted with an artificial limb.[22]

As a teacher, Koehler insisted that his students master the fundamentals. Some students were impatient about this at first, but eventually came to understand that Koehler's thorough training stood them in good stead. The art school in Minneapolis enjoyed a high reputation nationally and Koehler's students generally did well when they moved on to other schools for further training. Among his students in Minneapolis were Albert Lovey Groll, Gustav F. Goetsch, and Gustav von Schlegell. All were from German-American families but were born in the United States. Groll and von Schlegell later studied in Munich. The Swedish-American artist Knute Heldner was also one of Koehler's students in Minneapolis.

During the decade of the 1890s, Koehler's efforts were directed mainly toward providing Minneapolis with an art school which had a diversified curriculum. In 1900, however, Koehler was given the task of organizing annual exhibitions of American art in behalf of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. He had, of course, gained valuable experience with this kind of work while in Munich. For the first exhibition, which opened March 27, 1900, Koehler solicited a varied selection of works providing a representative sampling of the current American art scene. The facilities available for these exhibitions were far from ideal and it was even necessary to use some of the classrooms at the art school for exhibition space. It became more and more apparent that Minneapolis needed a new and larger facility which would house not only an art school but also an art museum. Koehler became actively involved in planning for such a facility.[23] His dream was finally realized with the opening, in 1915, of the spacious building of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts.[24]

Koehler's administrative duties in Minneapolis left him with little time for his own painting. Several of his paintings from the turn of the century are formal portraits. His self-portrait, done in 1898, is a skillfully executed work. In 1903 an alumni group commissioned Koehler to do a portrait of Frederick J. Wulling, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. Wulling was a personal friend of Koehler and owned three works by the artist. He was also a man with many interests, one of which was art. Koehler's painting of Wulling, now badly in need of restoration, is a life-size, three-quarter portrait showing the still youthful dean in a contemplative pose. The picture was widely exhibited, making the rounds of twenty-two cities. Wulling later commissioned Koehler to contribute four paintings to a series showing great men in the history of pharmacy. These portraits, which were probably all copied from photographs, are competently done but lifeless. On the other hand, Koehler's portrait of Alvina Roosen, painted in 1906, is a superior example of his work as a portrait artist.

In November 1900 there was an important exhibition and sale of Koehler's works at the John S. Bradstreet gallery in Minneapolis. In addition to the many works which were offered for sale, the show included several major works loaned by museums and private collectors. The attractive illustrated catalog lists eighty works, including seventeen watercolors and twelve drawings and etchings.

During vacations, Koehler liked to paint outdoors. He often painted at Lake Minnetonka, just west of Minneapolis, or at Hastings, a suburb southeast of the city. At Lake Minnetonka, painted before 1901, betrays the influence of impressionism. But a more representative example of Koehler's outdoor painting during his late period is Rainy Evening on Hennepin Avenue, painted around 1910. The artist's wife and young son appear with the family dog in the foreground. Sharp definition is avoided throughout in favor of a misty blur recalling the work of James McNeil Whistler, whom Koehler had met in Europe some years before. The painting is in the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and is a familiar sight to local gallery visitors. In 1977 a was reproduced in color on the cover of the Minneapolis classified telephone directory.

In 1913 Koehler was invited to serve on a Midwestern advisory committee for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, scheduled to be held in San Francisco in two years. In 1914 Koehler retired from the directorship of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts and became director emeritus. He was subsequently made docent or expert guide at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.[25] Late in life he received a travelling fellowship which enabled him to spend a summer doing outdoor painting at Gloucester, Massachusetts. Several landscapes which he painted there were among the thirty paintings which he exhibited in October 1916 at a one-man show in the Brooks Gallery in Minneapolis. Also exhibited was a portrait of the Norwegian-born painter Herbjøm Gausta, who had settled in Minneapolis in 1888. Gausta had been a student at the Munich Academy from 1878 to 1882 and Koehler had probably met him there.[26]

Koehler played an active role in many local art associations. Shortly after his arrival in Minneapolis he had taken the initiative in founding the Minneapolis Art League, which began holding annual exhibitions in 1896, and for a time he served as president of this organization.[27] He was also treasurer of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts.[28] He served on the Art Commission of the City of Minneapolis and was an honorary member of the Minnesota State Art Association and the Alumni Association of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts. Further afield, he was a member of the Society of Western Artists and of the International Institute of Arts and Letters in Paris.

Koehler died in Minneapolis on April 23, 1917, the result of a heart attack which he suffered while riding on a Nicollet Avenue streetcar. He was on his way to check the lighting for an Art League exhibition when death overtook him.[29] Among the pallbearers at his funeral were the artists Herbjøm Gausta and Gustav F. Goetsch.[30]

Ten years after Koehler's death, a commemorative bronze plaque in his memory was placed in the art school building. The plaque, bearing a profile portrait of Koehler in low relief, was the work of Charles S. Wells, a friend of Koehler and an instructor of sculpture at the art school.[31] Koehler's friend, Frederick J. Wulling, gave the address at the dedication. Years later Wulling had this to say bout Koehler's career in Minneapolis:

Mr. Koehler led the strenuous and impecunious life of a high standard pioneer artist in an atmosphere of a yet young and hardly art appreciative section of the country. He contributed more than any other, in my judgment, to the present art appreciation hereabouts.[32]

By 1970 Koehler had become an almost forgotten regional artist, proudly remembered in Milwaukee and Minneapolis, but without the sort of nationwide recognition achieved by his friends Frank Duveneck and William Merritt Chase. Then, during the early 1970s, the efforts of two young scholars touched off a revival of interest in Koehler's work. Lee Baxendall, a Marxist literary critic, saw a copy of Koehler's The Strike and traced the painting to the Minneapolis Public Library, where he found it stored out of sight and in need of restoration. In 1971 the library disposed of it to Baxendall for the unbelievable bargain price of $750.[33] When news of the sale leaked out, there was a shocked reaction in the local labor press.[34] Baxendall subsequently had the painting restored and brought it to the attention of Patricia Hills, a young curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Hills included it in an exhibition held at the Whitney Museum in 1974 and put a full page color reproduction of the work in the exhibition catalog.[35] The museum insured the painting for $100,000 when it was exhibited. The subsequent publicity surrounding the exhibition brought Koehler to the attention of a whole new generation of Americans. It is to be hoped that the rediscovery of Koehler will eventually make some of his other works as well known as they deserve to be.


1. Lydia Ely, "Art and Artists in Milwaukee" in Louis Conard (ed.), History of Milwaukee, vol. 2, pp. 71-83 (Chicago and New York: American Biographical Publishing Company, 1895), pp. 76-78.

2. Milwaukee Sentinel, January 23, 1871 , p. 4.

3. Minneapolis Journal, April 29, 1917, Amusement section, p. 3.

4. Minneapolis Journal, April 29, 1917, Amusement section, p. 3.

5. American Art Annual, vol. 1 (1898), p. 460.

6. Milwaukee Sentinel, July 25, 1876, p. 8.

7. Judith A. Barter and Lynn E. Springer, Currents of Expansion in the Midwest, 1820-1940 (St. Louis: The St. Louis Museum, 1977), p. 170. Piloty is also mentioned by Koehler's widow on p. 21 of the History of the Koehler Family (1973), an unpublished 36-page typescript, a copy of which is at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. The History was edited and translated by Lee Baxendall from family records written by Koehler and his wife between 1898 and 1929.

8. Koehler Family History, p. 22. Milwaukee Sentinel, October 29, 1887, p. 12.

9. Koehler Family History, p. 35. Both Schreyvogel and Mucha did, in fact, study in Munich, but there is no corroboration from other sources that either was a pupil of Koehler.

10. Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Leipzig: E.A. Seemans, 1970-1971), vol. 21, p. 125.

11. Charlotte Whitcomb, "Robert Koehler, Painter, Brush and Pencil, vol. 9, no. 3 (December 1901), pp. 144-153.

12. Rudolf M. Bisanz, The René von Schleintz Collection of the Milwaukee Art Center (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1980), p. .150.

13. Norbert Heermann, Frank Duveneck (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1918) discusses Duveneck's associates in Munich but makes no mention of Koehler. Duveneck's periods of residence in Munich do not generally coincide with Koehler's, though it is possible that the two artists might have met there in 1873 or 1879.

14. Milwaukee Sentinel, November 22, 1882, p. 3 and September 1, 1884, p. 3.

15. Minneapolis Journal, March 23, 1901. Part II, p. 10. Quoted from Patricia Hills, The Painters' America, Rural and Urban Life, 1810-1910 (New York and Washington: Praeger Publishers, 1974), p. 123.

16. New York Times, April 4, 1886, p. 4.

17. Milwaukee Sentinel, September 10, 1889, p. 1.

18. The record of Koehler's matriculation at the Munich Academy takes note of the fact that his father was a free-thinker.

19. Koehler made this statement in a biographical questionnaire filled out July 14, 1916 for the Minnesota Historical Society.

20. Peter Weiss, Die Ästhetik des Widerstandes. Roman. (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp Verlag,1975), pp. 357-360.

21. Jeffrey A. Hess, Their Splendid Legacy: The First 100 Years of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts (Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, 1985), pp. 13-14.

22. As payment for the artificial limb, Koehler gave his painting, The Bohemian Peasant Girl to Lowell E. Jackson, president of the company which had supplied it. Jackson's daughter, recalling the incident years later, thought that Koehler had been fitted with two artificial legs. On pp. 4-5 of the History of the Koehler Family, however, Koehler mentions only that his right foot was affected. Katherine A. Jackson's deposition is in the possession of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

23. Robert Koehler, "Some Ideas on the Founding of an Art Museum," Proceedings of the American Association of Museums, vol. 11 (1908), pp. 125-131.

24. Hess (1985), p. 33.

25. Minneapolis Tribune, April 24, 1917, p. 10.

26. Rita Neumann Coen, Painting and Sculpture in Minnesota, 1820-1914 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976), pp. 71-75.

27. American Art Annual, vol. 1, (1898), p. 460.

28. American Art Annual, vol. 3 (1900-1901), p. 116.

29. Minneapolis Journal, April 24, 1917, p. 11.

30. Minneapolis Journal, April 24, 1917, p. 11.

31. Minneapolis Journal, January 2, 1927, General News Section, p. 11.

32. Letter to Ruth Thompson, May 31, 1946.

33. The Village Voice (New York), December 2, 1974, p. 98. Milwaukee Sentinel, May 16, 1975, Local News Section, pp. 1-2.

34. Minneapolis Labor Review, December 21, 1972, p. 316 and January 11, 1973, p. 3.

35. Hills (1974), p. 119.

About the Author:

Peter C. Merrill, who currently resides in Boca Raton, Fl, was born in 1930 in Evanston, IL. He was affiliated with the Department of Languages and Linguistics, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL from 1968 to 1998, retiring as a full professor.

Dr. Merrill received a B.A. in Anthropology from Yale University, a M.S. in Linguistics from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Columbia University.

He is an expert on 19th-century German-language writers in the U.S., the German-language stage in the U.S. and German immigrant artists in the U.S.

Dr. Merrill has authored four books on related subjects and written forty-three articles and numerous book reviews and professional papers.

Image of Dr. Merrill and his biographical information courtesy of the author.


Resource Library editor's notes:

Also see:

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/20/10

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