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Hugh Ditzler

 (1871 - 1949)
Hugh Witter Ditzler was active/lived in New York, Illinois.  Hugh Ditzler is known for illustrations, portrait, naval scenes, iron work.

Hugh Ditzler

Biography from the Archives of askART

The following is from Patricia (Pat) Sabin, who is related to this artist by marriage.

Hugh W. Ditzler was born 1871 in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois.  A lithograph of one of his original drawings is featured in the book, North Central College, A Century of Liberal Education, 1861-1961.  According to the caption, the original of Old Main was drawn when Hugh Ditzler was only 15 years old.

Ditzler appears to have preferred pencil drawings and watercolor but also painted in oil.  He was more prolific as an illustrator of magazines and books than as a painter.  He was commissioned to paint a depiction the Administration Building of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. 

H. Ditzler's paternal grandparents were Jonathan Ditzler and Esther Alspaugh, Pennsylvania Germans who migrated first to Ohio and then to northern Illinois.

His parents were Elias and Celia Babcock Ditzler.  Elias Ditzler served in the 8th Illinois Cavalry during the Civil War, and was present at the Battle of Gettysburg, and also witnessed the funeral procession of President Lincoln as it made its way through Chicago.  In the late 1880s the family moved to Hinsdale, Illinois, a prosperous bedroom community of Chicago where family member William Day Gates lived.  Gates founded the American Terra Cotta Company and Gates Pottery of Chicago, and created Teco Pottery which is very collectable today.

Aunt Hannah Ditzler Alpaugh, was a historian, writer, teacher, and artist in Naperville, Illinois.  She lived a fascinating life and no doubt had considerable influence over the art of her nephew, Hugh Ditzler.  Her scrapbooks and diaries are at the Naper Settlement Museum, and excerpts of her diaries have been published.

Evidentially, his art career took a completely different direction around 1920, and he spent the rest of his life working in decorative wrought iron. We found his marriage of June 24, 1903 in DuPage County, Illinois, to Charlotte Tiedemann.  Apparently, they were divorced, and she remarried in 1920. In the 1930 Census of Norwalk, Connecticut, it shows Hugh married to Edna, and she is mentioned in his obituary below as surviving him.

He died October 3, 1949. This is his obituary published in the New York Times.


Artist, Who Made Decorative Pieces at Studio and Forge in Greenwich Village Dies

"Hugh Ditzler, artist and wrought-iron worker, died on Monday at his home, 113 Sullivan Street, at the age of 78.  He maintained a forge and studio in the old Louisa May Alcott house at 134 MacDougal Street.

"Mr. Ditzler became interested in working with iron while he was attending the Chicago Art Institute. He came to New York in 1889 to obtain work as an illustrator, and made annual visits to Paris for further study at the Julian Academy.

"With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Mr. Ditzler was commissioned by McClure's, Scribner's and Colliers magazines to go to Santiago to record the conflict.  At the conclusion of hostilities he returned here and opened a studio at 43 Washington Square.  In 1915 he moved to Norwalk, Conn., where he worked as an illustrator and a designer of iron-work for clients, including Henry Tiffany.

"In 1920 he decided to devote himself entirely to iron-work and opened a forge in Norwalk, where he worked for the late Wallace Nutting, authority on early Americana.  One of his larger projects was ornamental iron-work for the Williamsburg, Va., restoration program.

"Mr. Ditzler settled in Greenwich Village in 1939, opened a forge there and had been turning out small decorative pieces.

Surviving besides his widow, Edna of Norwalk, are a brother and a sister."

Source: Many thanks to Julia Duncan for providing a photocopy of the original published obituary!

Additional information from Debbie Baker, the artist's great-great niece:

Hugh Witter Ditzler's work is in the following public collections:
The Navy Museum-US Navy Art Collection
Naper Settlement Museum, Naperville, Illinois
Hinsdale Historical Society, Hinsdale, Illinois
Beverly Historical Society Museum, Beverly, Massachusetts

The Army and Navy of the United States published in 1898 (his drawings are in the Navy volume)
Ainsworth: Jack Sheppard published 1898 illustrations
Ainsworth: John Law published 1898 illustrations
Ainsworth: The Manchester Rebels published 1898 illustrations
Ainsworth: The Tower of London published 1898 illustrations
Ainsworth: Talbot Harland published 1899 illustrations
George Sand:The Masterpieces of George Sand 1901 illustrations
Girl of LaGloria published March 1909 illustrations
Ideal Collection of the World's Great Art 1909 - One of his pictures is in this North Central College, A Century of Liberal Education 1861-1961 published in 1961 contains his illustration titled Old Main.

American Magazine August 1906 - cover and story illustration "The Derelicts" The Housewife 10-1-1912 Illustration Scribner's Monthly November 1898 - illustrated one article Scribner's Monthly January - June 1898 - illustrated one article

Gibson Art Company - post cards (about 15)
1898 Illustrator for General Miles during the Spanish American War

The family suspects that Hugh illustrated under the "pen name" of Charlotte Weber-Ditzler and possibly Edna Ditzler.  We've been unable to find much about either woman, and Hugh was married to two women, Charlotte and Edna.  The signatures on their works are very similar, as are their style in art.  Charlotte illustrated many books and magazines, mainly those that appealed to ladies.  Edna seems to have illustrated political satire (Judge Magazine.)

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Hugh Ditzler

Born:  1871 - Naperville, Illinois
Died:   1949 - Greenwich Village, New York
Known for:  illustrations, portrait, naval scenes, iron work