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Max Weyl

 (1837 - 1914)
Max Weyl was active/lived in District Of Columbia.  Max Weyl is known for landscape, and some still life painting.

Max Weyl

Biography from the Archives of askART

Max Weyl was born in Muhlen-am-Neckar, Germany and came to Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1853 before moving to Washington in 1861.

Please note: the above correction to Weyl's biography was submitted by his great-grandson Christopher Wolf, March 2006.


The story of Max Weyl's life includes his evolution from a watchmaker too shy to hang his paintings in his own shop window, to finally doing so, and having a major collector see the work and buy it, thus launching the artist in Washington, D.C. But, in the end, Weyl would begin to copy his own, too successful landscapes.

Essentially self-taught, Weyl would draw on three major influences in his art, from Hudson River School through Barbizon School to the American painter George Inness.

Born near Wurttemberg, Germany in Muhlen-am-Neckar in 1837, Weyl was a watchmaker's apprentice there, eventually opening his own jewelry store in 1861 in Washington after emigrating to the United States. He started painting flowers and still-lifes as a hobby, working on his art for the next ten years. Not until 1870, did he gather the courage to exhibit his work in his store window.

It was at that point that Weyl's personal miracle occurred---the appearance of a wealthy patron who loved his work and was well connected. He was Samuel Kauffmann, President of the Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and publisher of the "Evening Star" newspaper. Kauffman, of all things, stopped by Weyl's shop to have his watch repaired. He saw the artist's paintings and bought a small landscape. That was the beginning. Kauffman continued to purchase paintings as the years went by, as did such Presidential wives as Mrs. Grover Cleveland and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, who would buy and hang Max Weyl's landscapes of the Washington, D.C. area in the White House.

Weyl still described himself as a jeweler and watchmaker until 1878, when he listed himself as an artist in directories. In 1879, he went to Europe to see the art in the museums. Financed by a successful first exhibition of his paintings, this experience precipitated the Barbizon influence (he came to be called the "American Daubigny" after the well-known Barbizon painter Charles Daubigny).

Weyl's success and fame grew during the remaining twenty years of the Nineteenth Century, up to his death in 1914. The years of the Twentieth Century saw the influence of Inness in Weyl's handling of light in poetic landscapes of the Potomac River marshes and Rock Creek Valley just outside Washington. It was the paintings of the latter subject that the artist eventually turned into a formula because of their popularity.

Max Weyl was a member of the Washington Art Club. His work is seen at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Source: David Michael Zellman, "Three Hundred Years of American Art"


Biography from Williams American Art Galleries
A founder and leader of the Washington DC School of landscape painting, Max Weyl was one of the more popular and better-known artists of his day in the capital.

Largely self-taught, Weyl painted much in the manner of the Hudson River School in his early years. After a trip to Europe in middle age, his work turned toward the direction of the Barbizon mode; for years, in fact, his admirers called him the "American Daubigny."  From the 1890s on, however, it was George Inness, the master landscapist, who had the most profound influence on Weyl's work.

Weyl was born in Muhlen-am-Neckar, near Wurttemberg, Germany in 1837.  As a boy, he was apprenticed to a watchmaker and, after emigrating to America, he made his living as an itinerant watch repairman.  In 1861, however, he settled permanently in Washington, DC and opened a small jewelry store.  Through the 1860s, he experimented with painting as a hobby, trying still lifes of fruit and flowers at first.

In 1870, he finally worked up enough courage to hang several of his small paintings in the window of his shop.  A great boost to his career came when Samuel Kauffmann, publisher of the Washington Evening Star and president of the board of trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, stopped in to have his watch repaired, admired a small landscape and bought it.  Over the years, Kauffmann became a regular patron.

It was not until 1878, however, that Weyl listed himself in the city directory simply as an artist. His first exhibition of landscapes in 1879 sold well enough to pay for a trip to Europe to visit museums and studios.  It was after this trip that the Barbizon influence became so apparent in his work.

Weyl's work quickly won him renown.  In the 1880s and 1890s, the Brazilian ambassador, a noted collector, bought 14 of his paintings, as did other wealthy collectors.  Later, both Mrs. Grover Cleveland and the first Mrs. Woodrow Wilson bought his landscapes for the White House.  On his seventieth birthday in 1907, the Corcoran Gallery held a retrospective exhibit in honor of Weyl. They praised him with these words: "From the standpoint of art you have contributed works of genius that will stand for all time: while your bearing as a man, citizen and friend has been of that modest and yet far-reaching character that wins the love and retains the esteem of those with whom you have come in contact."

In the 20 years before his death in 1914, Weyl was known particularly for his poetic paintings of the scenic Rock Creek valley at the edge of Washington and of the wide tidal marshes of the Potomac river.

Max Weyl died in 1914.

Society of Washington Artists (president)
Washington Watercolor Club
Washington Art Club (founding member)

Corcoran Gallery
National Gallery of Art
Cosmos Club, Washington, DC
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Virginia Military Institute
Georgetown University
National Trust Historic Preservation
Carnegie Institute
Minneapolis Institute of Arts

National Academy of Design, 1883-96
Brooklyn Artists Association, 1884
American Galleries, 1883
Boston Art Club, 1887
Society of Washington Artists, 1891 (first prize), 1901 (prize), 1904 (prize)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts annual, 1901-03
Corcoran Gallery annuals/biennials, 1907-12 (4 times)
National Museum of American Art, 1983-94

Chadbourne, Exhibition Record of the Boston Art Club: 1873-1909
Cosentino, The Capital Image: Painters in Washington: 1800-1915
Falk, Annual Exhibition Record of the National Academy of Design: 1901-1950
Falk, Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 1876-1913
Falk, Biennial Exhibition Record of the Corcoran Gallery: 1907-1967
Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Gerdts, Art Across America
Mallett, Mallett's Index of Artists: International-Biographical
McMahan, Artists of Washington, DC
Opitz (ed.), Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers
Strazdes, American Paintings and Sculpture to 1945 in the Carnegie Museum of Art
Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Biography from Pierce Galleries, Inc.
Max Weyl (American1837-1914)

Max Weyl was born in Washington, D.C. on December 1, 1837 and he died on July 6, 1914 in Wurtemberg, Germany. He grew up in the Washington and Virginia area and was an adept painter as a lad. He studied in Europe and was highly influenced by the Barbizon painters prior to 1875, yet he maintained a tight adherence to the academic tradition exploited by Hudson River painters until the 1880s.

Weyl was a member of the Society of Washington Artists and won two prizes with that association in 1901 and 1904, but he remained a recluse most of his artistic life and did not like to exhibit or enter painting contests. He painted diligently throughout Europe and after coming back to America in the 1870s, he returned to Germany to live and paint.

Weyl was close friends with Maine marine painter William S. Barrett and New York marine painter Paul Dougherty. He was highly respected for his dramatic impressions of the American and European landscape, in which he used glowing Barbizon tones to display nature's moods.

The artist is represented at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Cosmos Club (DC), the Albright-Knox Gallery/Museum, Buffalo, NY and elsewhere.

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About  Max Weyl

Born:  1837 - Muhlen-am-Neckar, Germany
Died:   1914 - Washington, D.C.
Known for:  landscape, and some still life painting