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 Julius Stockfleth  (1857 - 1935)

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Lived/Active: Texas      Known for: marine, landscape

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Julius Stockfleth
from Auction House Records.
Tothesand Light House, Germany
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Julius Stockfleth, marine and landscape painter, was born in Wyk auf Föhr, Schleswig-Holstein, on January 29, 1857, son of Friedrich August and Louise (Hansen) Stockfleth. His father was a ship joiner and sailor, and his mother was an "innkeeper for the suite of Christian VIII" of Denmark. The parents immigrated to the United States during the 1870s. Stockfleth's early artistic training occurred in Wyk, where he was apprenticed to a local painter.

He immigrated to the United States in 1883 and settled in Galveston two years later. He listed himself as a portrait painter until he returned to Germany in 1907, where he continued his art career in Wyk until his death. He never married. During two decades in Texas, Stockfleth produced a valuable artistic record of historic Galveston. His paintings of the Galveston hurricane of 1900 are a valuable record. His contribution to Texas art is most notable in ship portraits. His first identifiable Texas work, a view of the Galveston wharves in 1885, is in the collection of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston, the only major public repository of his works in the United States. Although often viewed as naive in treatment, Stockfleth's paintings present bright colors and precise detail with clear representational images of old Galveston's ships, whether sailing vessels, steamers, freighters, fishing schooners, pilot boats, tugs, towboats, or barges. Other vessels that he depicted, such as clipper ships, racing yachts, and United States Navy battleships, may never have visited the port and were probably painted from photographs or prints.

No previous artist left as complete a picture of Galveston and western Gulf Coast shipping as did Stockfleth. Of particular historical interest was the series of paintings, some of which survive only in postcard reproductions, that documented the hurricane of September 8, 1900, which devastated Galveston and took more than 6,000 lives. Stockfleth painted scenes of the inundated streets and buildings destroyed by waves and wind. A later series pictured the new Galveston seawall, the causeway to the mainland, and grade-filling canals used in raising the level of the city after the storm. These works, along with his portraits and paintings of houses and a few Galveston Island landscapes, form a unique local record of Galveston at the turn of the century. Stockfleth died in Germany in 1935.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: James Patrick McGuire, Julius Stockfleth (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1976). Pauline A. Pinckney, Painting in Texas: The Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967).

James Patrick McGuire

Information submitted, August 9, 2004, as a bulletin by Bill Broussard

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