Untitled (Woman by the Windows)
Pastel on board, c. 1915
Created while the artist was in Giverny, France
Gift of the artist to his wife, Mary Hess Buehr
by Descent to the artist's niece, daughter of Will Hess.
Robert Henry Adams Fine Art, Chicago
Ronald C. Sloter, Columbus
One of the early Chicago artists to adopt Impressionism, Karl Buehr became a figure and landscape painter. As a figure painter, his specialty became "gorgeously colored images of young women on porches overlooking brilliant summertime gardens." (Kennedy 98) His later work often showed a female figure with serious expression engaging the viewer with a direct stare. In his landscapes, he was noted for his strong coloration. In a December 1896 student exhibition at the Art Institute, a reviewer for the "Chicago Times Herald" described Buehr's landscapes as "blithe and joyous" with "country roads brilliant in sunlight . . . fields rich in summer verdure, under soft skies painted in a high, musical key." (Gerdts 68)
Buehr was born as one of seven sons to a prosperous German family who immigrated to America and settled in Chicago in 1869. He was first exposed to his signature style of Impressionism in 1888 when he enrolled in night classes at the Art Institute while working in the shipping department of a lithographic firm near the Institute. He remained a student there until 1897 and was recognized in a "Chicago Times Herald" editorial of June 13, 1897 as one of the Institute's most outstanding pupils.
The next year, his art career was temporarily put on hold when he briefly enlisted with the U.S. Army in the Spanish American War. In 1899, he resumed his art studies, this time with Frank Duveneck. He exhibited a painting at the Paris Salon of 1900. In 1905, thanks to a wealthy Chicago patron, Buehr and his family moved to France. They spent the following year in Taormina, Sicily, and spent time in Venice as well. In Paris, Buehr studied at the Academy Julian with Raphael Collin for two years. Then he went to England, enrolling in the London Art School but had returned to Paris by 1908. During this time, he began painting at Giverny, the home of Impressionist leader Claude Monet (1840-1926, and by 1912, Buehr was listing that village as his home address. One of his good friends and associates at Giverny was Frederick Frieseke.
One of Buehr's paintings from that time, "News from Home", was exhibited in 1913 at the French Salon in Paris and at the annual exhibit of the Chicago Art Institute. It shows a woman in floral dress sitting on a porch with a background with potted flowers and lush greenery background. Of his painting done at Giverny, Buehr wrote in 1912 to William Macbeth of Macbeth Galleries in New York: "My figures painted in and around Giverny are costumed and in appropriate out door settings." (Gerdts 68)
In 1914, he returned to the United States and took a teaching position in Chicago at the Art Institute, which he held for the remainder of his life. He was married to Mary Hess, a painter of miniatures and decorative works.
In 1928-29, he was a guest artist at Stanford University.
“Karl Albert Buehr (1866–1952) was a painter born in Germany.
Buehr was born in Feuerbach - near Stuttgart. He was the son of Frederick Buehr and Henrietta Doh (Dohna?). He moved to Chicago with his parents and siblings in the 1880s. In Chicago, young Karl worked at various jobs until he was employed by a lithograph company near the Art Institute of Chicago. Introduced to art at work, Karl paid regular visits to the Art Institute, where he found part-time employment, enabling him to enroll in night classes. Later, working at the Institute as a night watchman, he had a unique opportunity to study the masters and actually posted sketchings that blended in favorably with student's work. Having studied under John H. Vanderpoel, Buehr graduated with honors, while his work aroused such admiration that he was offered a teaching post there, which he maintained for many years thereafter. He graduated from the Art Inst. of Chicago and served in the IL Cav in the Spanish–American War. Mary Hess became Karl's wife—she was a student of his and an accomplished artist in her own right. In 1922, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member.
Art Studies in Europe
In 1904, Buehr received a bronze medal at the St. Louis Universal Exposition, then, in 1905, Buehr and his family moved to France, thanks to a wealthy Chicago patron, and they spent the following year in Taormina, Sicily, where the artist painted local subjects, executing both genre subjects and landscapes as well as time in Venice. Buehr spent at least some time in Paris, where he worked with Raphaël Collin at the Académie Julian.
Giverny and American Impressionism
Prior to this time, Buehr had developed a quasi-impressionistic style, but after 1909, when he began spending summers near Monet in Giverny, his work became decidedly characteristic of that plein-air style but he began focusing on female subjects posed out-of-doors. He remained for some time in Giverny, and here he became well-acquainted with other well known expatriate America impressionists such as Richard Miller, Theodore Earl Butler, Frederick Frieseke, and Lawton Parker. It seems likely that Buehr met Monet, since his own daughter Kathleen and Monet’s granddaughter, Lili Butler, were playmates, according to George Buehr, the painter’s son. His other daughter Lydia died before adulthood due to diabetes. He returned to Chicago at the onset of World War I and taught at The Art Inst for many years. One of his noted pupils at the Art Institute was Archibald Motley, Jr. the famous African American "Harlem" Renaissance painters. Motley credits Buehr with being one of his finest teachers and one who encouraged his style.
Teaching Career in Chicago
Buehr remained an expressive colorist, but broadened his brushwork somewhat in later years when impressionism waned. Back in America, he was immediately successful. He won a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco and the Purchase Prize of the Chicago Municipal Art Commission in the following year. So famed was Buehr that had a one-man exhibition at the Century of Progress Fair in Chicago in 1934.
After a long and exceedingly productive career, Karl Buehr died in Chicago at the age of eighty-six.”
Courtesy of Wikipedia