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 Franz Holzlhuber  (1820 - 1898)

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Lived/Active: Wisconsin / Austria      Known for: American frontier scene sketches and watercolor painting

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Two Indians at a Listening Post by a Shore; Chippewa Indians on Mackinac Island; Fort Snelling, Minnesota; and Ball Game of Menominee Indians: Four Works
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
FRANZ H)LZLHUBER (1820-1898)

A musician, illustrator, and watercolorist, Franz Holzlhuber created a valuable artistic record of the American frontier in the years just prior to the Civil War. His works portray the character of life and labor in Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and down the Mississippi River to Louisiana. Native American chieftains, railroad camps, and surveyor teams come alive in his paintings and sketches.

Born in Grundberg, Austria, Holzlhuber immigrated to Milwaukee in 1856 to take a post as a music instructor and orchestra leader. From 1858 to 1860, he traveled north and south along the Mississippi River, creating watercolor sketches. During this time, Harper’s Magazine and other periodicals hired him to provide illustrations for feature stories.

Holzlhuber’s sketchbooks and some larger watercolors reveal that he sought to create spontaneous accounts of activity and commerce, rather than highly composed, polished works of art. The artist’s subjects include portraits of Sioux, Winnebago, and Chippewa leaders; scenes of Wisconsin logging camps; and views of African American slaves on rice, cotton, and sugar cane plantations in the South.

Anticipating his return to Europe, Hölzlhuber planned to execute a series of panoramic views of American frontier life for exhibition in Vienna. He filled his American sketchbooks with studies, from which he later made oil paintings and more finished watercolors. In 1860, Hölzlhuber returned to his native country, where he worked as a librarian and museum curator until his death in 1898.

This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.

Biography from State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Museum:
Franz Holzlhuber's Watercolors

Franz Holzlhuber (1826-1898) was an Austrian visitor to the U.S. from 1856 to 1860, who stayed for a while in Milwaukee before venturing out to see the countryside. While travelling he sketched his observations and recorded descriptions on notepaper. Later some of his sketches were published in such periodicals as Harper's Monthly. After his return to Austria, he used his sketches in lectures and as sources for larger drawings.

Take a look at 42 watercolor drawings of the Mississippi River Valley and Canada, with 22 scenes in Wisconsin.

In addition to the original watercolor sketches, this collection contains a set of black and white photographs of the sketches and a bound facsimile volume of color laser copies of the sketches and related news clippings. Also included are a draft and final translation (from the original German) of Holzlhuber's description of each sketch and a copy of the pamphlet The American Sketchbooks of Franz Hölzlhuber, printed for an exhibition of other Holzlhuber works at the University of Kansas Museum of Art in 1959.

Another major collection of Hölzlhuber's work - including several additional Wisconsin scenes - is held by the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. According to their website, he was born in Grundberg bei Styr, Austria, worked as a law clerk, and received some training in art and music. In later life he became director of the National Railroad Museum and was decorated with the Gold Merit Cross in Austria.

In an odd sidenote: American Heritage [magazine], June 1965, attributes the introduction of Linzertortes (pastries filled with fruit, usually raspberries) to America to Franz Holzlhuber: "In 1856 Holzlhuber, an enterprising young Austrian from the vicinity of Linz, started for America. He had very little money but was equipped with a zither, a sketchbook, some education in the law and in draftsmanship, and the promise of employment in Milwaukee as conductor of an orchestra. Somewhere between New York and Wisconsin, he lost both his luggage and the letter confirming his job, which, it turned out, was no longer available. Nothing daunted, he went to work as a baker-introducing (so he said) the Linzer Torte to America..."


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