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 Conrad Heyd  (1837 - 1912)

About: Conrad Heyd


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Lived/Active: Wisconsin / Germany      Known for: portrait, miniature, panorama

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is based on information provided by Patty Hess of Cedarburg Antiques, Cedarburg, Wisconsin. She found this data with a 1980 appraisal whose accompanying biography was taken from "Art in Wisconsin," by Porter Butts.

Conrad Heyd, a German born in 1837, became a much admired Wisconsin portrait painter in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was self-taught except for his association with artists in New York City, where he had painted porcelain miniatures, portraits in oil and watercolor, and applied color to photographs.

He came to Milwaukee from New York in 1868, remained for two years, and then moved to Prairie du Chien. In 1880, he returned to Milwaukee to paint portraits and landscapes and to color photographs. He continued to work until his eyes failed him, shortly before his death in 1912.

Heyd painted many of the prominent persons of Milwaukee, some of Wisconsins former governors, and "the most famous of the Civil War generals." The fame of his subjects won him a reputation outside the state and eventually his work was in collections in many states of the Middle West.

In in the eyes of some of his contemporaries Heyd was "the foremost artist of Wisconsin." What they admired in his painting was its technical finish and his unchanging approach of capturing a photographic likeness.

"There was no real portrait painter until Conrad Heyd came to this city in 1868", wrote Louis Mayer, one of the first of the young Milwaukee-born painters to go to Germany for training. This comment illustrates how little consciousness the younger generations of artists had of their English forerunners in Milwaukee. Once the finish of German technique appeared, these young artists, largely Germans themselves, turned their attention toward the precepts of Weimer and Munich. Heyd worked with Francesco Spicuzza.

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