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Dictionary of American Biography, volume 5:

KRIMMEL, John Lewis

(1789-July 15, 1821), painter, styled by his contemporaries *the American Hogarth,* was born at Ebingen, in Wuerttemberg, Germany. He emigrated to the United States in 1810 to join his brother, George Frederick Krimmel, who, frowning upon his younger brother's artistic leaning, claped him into his Philadelphia counting-house. This occupation pleased Krimmel so little that before many months he left his brother's home as well as his commercial establishment, took lodgings, and devoted himself to the more congenial business of portrait painting. His first portrait, that of his landlady and her family, stirred sufficient interest among acquaintances to enable the young artist to continue portrait painting as a livelyhood, though at times an uncertain one. His eyesight was so abnormally keen and his observation so quick that his work, whether executed upon canvas or ivory, was that of a born miniturist. At one time, having married, and incurred the responsibility of a growing family, he accepted a position as professor of drawing in a young ladies' seminary. His tenure of office was short, however, The mistress of the school, desiring to curry favor with the parents of her charges, demanded that her drawing professor execute the work for his pupils. To Krimmel the artist, any such proposition was intolerable: he refused point blank, and found himself jobless.
In America he had found his center of interest. His first painting to be exhibited, *Pepper-Pot* (1811), was typical of Philadelphia and marked the beginning of his long association with the Columbian Society of Artists who held yearly exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. With kindly humor and a keen eye he painted American scenes and American types, from the young girl of humble parentage returning home a finished prig from the fashionable boarding school to crowds of Americans celebrating the Fourth of July; gathering in Center Square, Philadelphia, by the city water works, or watching the demoliton by fire of the old Masonic Hall. Always his interest lay in contemporary events and individuals; he was one of the few painters of his generation in America to chronicle the life of his day. The purchasing public did not consider the Amercan scene of any importance, however, and Krimmel was forced to eke out his living as portraitist and miniaturist. Much of his work, owing, probably, to the apathy of the public, is preserved not in the original but through engravings made from the originals by his friend and patron, Alexander Lawson. 

He went to Germany in 1817 for a short stay, but after his sojourn in America found little to interest him in the land of his nativity and returned to his adopted country. When he left America he had been an unknown and struggling painter. When he returned he found himself *discovered* by the country's chief literary organ, the Analectic Magazine, which in the issue for February 1820 reproduced in outline engraving his painting, *Country Wedding*, now to be found in the permanent collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The growing popularity of his genre creation, and especially of his *Procession of Victuallers* and *The Burning of Masonic Hall*, brought him an order to paint an historical picture depicting Penn's treaty with the Indians. This work, which was to have been his masterpiece, was never completed, since Krimmel was frowned in a mill pond near Germantown in the summer of 1821, the same year in which he had become president of the Association of American Artists. 

The works of Krimmel are sadly scattered, with scant record as to their whereabouts. Among the best known of them are his *Fourth of July Celebration at the State House, 1819*, *The Burning of Masonic Hall*, and *Centre Square, Philadelphia, in 1812*. The original sketch for his *Election Day*, together with several other works, is in the possession of the Pennsulvania Historical Society. 

[Wm Dunlap, Hist. of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the U.S. (1834), vol. II; Joseph Jackson, *Krimmel: The American Hogarth,* International Studio, June 1929; Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Kuenstler, vol. XXI (1927)]    -D.G.-

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