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 Karl Eugene Felix  (1836 or 1837 - 1906)

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Lived/Active: Austria/United States      Known for: Portrait, genre, landscape painting

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Ad Code: 3
Karl Eugene Felix
from Auction House Records.
Portrait of Charlotte Grünhut (Mother of Charlotte Pontzen, married Viktor Ladislaus Schmidt 1849-1914, confectioner)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Relative to the confusion of two artists using the same name of K.E. Felix, the following is from an article which appeared September 5, 2011 in The Meadville Tribune, Meadville, Pennsylvania:

Former local 'ambassador' uncovers art mystery

By Jean Shanley 
Special to The Meadville Tribune

CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS ? A painting purchased at a garage sale for $5 has resulted in a former Meadville man learning there are two artists from different countries with the same initials ? and one often gets credit for the other's work.

George L. (Joey) Custard, a son of Skeet and Wanita Custard of Meadville, was visiting New Jersey with his friend, Daniel Biron, a New Jersey native, when they went to a garage sale in 2006. They found what Custard considered an "interesting painting." It was sitting on the ground, leaning on a table with the backside out. "I thought it looked interesting so I turned it around. To me, it looked like a serious painting," Custard said.

He and Biron decided to purchase the seascape.

The painting is signed "K.E. Felix." Custard went to the Carnegie Library Art Department and staffers there helped him look up the artist and found him as "listed artist" Karl Eugene Felix. It was Custard's first step that led to an interesting discovery.

He found auctions with paintings by K.E. Felix on eBay and the Internet, and that kept him interested in finding out more about the artist. He learned Felix was born in Vienna, Austria, and was a portrait and genre painter. His works are on display in many museums, both in Vienna and in the United States, and sell anywhere from $600 to several thousand dollars. Felix died in 1906.

Custard also went to the website Ask Art, which features paintings, artists' biographies and auction results. There are some paintings by Karl Eugene Felix, but very little other information.

In August 2010, he took the painting to a show called "Pittsburgh's Hidden Treasures," similar to PBS's "Antiques Road Show," where people take antiques to experts for information and appraisal. Custard said the painting was examined by an art gallery curator/dealer who saw the work was signed "K.E. Felix." Based on previous information, Custard told her it was Karl Eugene Felix. She found comparable works on her computer and appraised the painting at between $1,800 and $2,500.

She also told him the painting was probably not in the original frame, which looks like it is 1920s-era ? but Karl Eugene Felix had died more than 10 years before that.

Custard previously had posted an inquiry on Ask Art, stating he had gone to the event and had the painting appraised. In searching the web, Custard also noticed that not all the signatures of K.E. Felix looked the same. One was more block-looking, the other more cursive.

A Florida Felix

One woman posted in 2009 that she had original paperwork dated 1924 involving land purchased by a K.E. Felix in Florida, but Custard didn't pay much attention to it at the time. This summer, still intrigued, Custard went back to the Internet to see if he could find anything else about this painter. That's when he paid more attention to the posting from 2009 that involved the land purchased in 1924.

"Being an amateur genealogist, I found this interesting because I know that land records can be researched because they are a matter of public record," Custard said. However, he knew the date 1924 did not match up with the lifespan of K.E. (Karl Eugene) Felix. "I had no way of knowing if he (Felix) even visited the United States, let alone lived here."

Custard didn't give up. He found a New York Times article from 1911, which reported an estate dispute involving Grace Felix Lesster and mentioning her sister, Mamie C. Lesster. The article said they were the "daughters of K.E. Felix, a marine painter."

He continued his research for the K.E. Felix with daughters named Grace and Mamie. Checking U.S. Census records, he discovered that this other Felix painter was probably Kanute E. Felix, who resided in New Jersey in 1900. He was born in Sweden in 1852, later moved to New Jersey and had several children, including Grace and Mamie, and his occupation was listed as artist.

Since the Florida property date was given as 1924, Custard decided to find a date on the death of K.E. Felix sometime after 1924. He searched the Latter Day Saints genealogy website and found Kanute E. Felix, who died May 25, 1935, in Florida.

Custard also found it interesting that he and Kanute share the same birthday ? Jan. 13 ? although they were born 105 years apart.

He realized that the information about Kanute Felix matched the Census information, and he called the cemetery office where K.E. Felix was buried and found the information to be accurate.

"That explains why my painting is in a later frame ? because (this) K.E. Felix was living until 1935 ? likely it is in the original frame," Custard said.

Custard did further examination and found a copy of the signature of Kanute E. Felix and realized it matches the style of the capital F used in other paintings he had seen signed K.E. Felix.

Art pros get it wrong

Custard found that Kanute Edwin Felix is not listed as a credited painter. However, his paintings with two styles of signature (cursive and block print) have been and continue to be erroneously auctioned as the works of Karl Eugene Felix (Austrian painter).

"Art dealers and auction houses have not done their homework as far as researching the artist in this case," Custard said. "Buyers are purchasing paintings by Kanute Edwin Felix, believing they are the works of Karl Eugene (K.E.) Felix.

The research was time-consuming but interesting, Custard said, and he thinks his investment of $5 and time is well worth it. He hopes that Kanute Edwin Felix gets credit for his beautiful art work ? a piece of which now hangs in Custard's home in Pittsburgh.


Custard is former local ambassador

George L. (Joey) Custard, a graduate of Meadville Area Senior High School, has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in theology and adult education from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

In 1975, he was the Meadville Area Community Ambassador to Israel and subsequently directed the ambassador program for several years.

He has resided in Pittsburgh since 1983 and has been employed by Mercy Behavioral Health for 10 years and a prevention educator and counselor on HIV disease and Hepatitis C in drug and alcohol/mental health treatment facilities.

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