Hartwich, Hermann (1853-1926)

Hartwich, Hermann (1853-1926)

Hermann Hartwich was an accomplished American-German painter of landscapes, figures and scenes. He trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and exhibited at various eminent European venues, winning numerous awards. The Smithsonian American Art Museum holds examples of his work.


Glaspalast in Munich, Paris Salon, Champs-Elysées Salon, International Art Exhibition in Berlin, Universal Exposition in St. Louis.

Public Collections

Smithsonian American Art Museum.



Born in New York to George Gunther Hartwick (1817-1899), a landscape painter born in Saxony, Germany, and Doretta Hartwick (or Hardwick), who was born in Prussia.

Initially taught to paint by his father.


Lived in New Jersey with his parents, five siblings and the German artist Herman Geyer. Both his father and Geyer are considered part of the second-generation Hudson River School painters.


Married Hannah Mary Buchholz in Kansas. The pair has at least two children.


Moved to Munich.


Depicted a corner of the opulent Schleissheim. The palace belonged to Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria (1821-1912).


Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.


Began exhibiting in Munich.
Works shown at the Glaspalast in Munich.


Works shown at the Glaspalast in Munich.


Works shown at the Glaspalast in Munich.
Referred to in ‘Pumpanella; a book for clever people who go off the beaten path’ by Michael Georg Conrad (1846-1927), a German writer and philosopher. Translated transcript included below.


Works shown at the Glaspalast in Munich.


Works shown at the Glaspalast in Munich.


Awarded a prize at the Paris Salon.


Returned to New York.


Awarded a prize at the Champs-Elysées Salon.

Returned to Munich.


Died in Munich.

"Pumpanella; a book for clever people who go off the beaten path. By Michael Georg Conrad (1846-1927), a German writer and philosopher.

A German-American.

Located in the large, famous Munich art barracks there are still many quiet corners, many interesting corners unexplored there. What you see in the newspapers and art magazines. Unfortunately, the number of people reading about Munich's artistic life is often a thousandfold, warmed cabbage, cut out with a few eyes of grease-with great sayings and cheap stuff like that without juice and strength, this has been the case for entire generations and was passed through all art journalistic kitchens. Most of time they are also the same ones that have become old and boring. Gentlemen who serve this old stuff year in year out. She clings to a dubend name, to half a dubend.

Thoughts and the rest, so to a well-set art article of respectable length and pecuniary lucrative ability belongs, the inexhaustible phrases of the hand-held professional art writer. To give yourself a glow of freshness and contemporary in the eyes of the devoutly reading. Lying to a believing audience is sometimes allowed to happen non-binding speeches against the government, schoolmasters. If you mess around with some up-and-coming talent, you moralise gently and cautiously the excessive airs of certain coterie.

Chiefs, you bite with teeth that are far from yours has more to do with the aesthetic problems of the day around, when the wind is fair, one declaims a national-patriotic one. Standing speech and other such tricks. In parenthesis: oh, if the art-loving society of our beer metropolis didn't have its Friedrich Pecht!

The old-fashioned eyes and the practiced mouth of this critic (and court painter to the Grand Ducal of Baden) currently represent the entire world-famous importance of our Bavarian-Athenian art writing. Even with the best will in the world, one person alone cannot do everything! I close the parenthesis and continue:

A wealth of the most interesting life phenomena in modern art development remain undiscussed. What do people who read newspapers learn? B. from the colony of German-American or Scandinavian or Hungarian or Greek painters through our contemporary Munich art writing studio? About the good or bad influence that these circles have on the fatherland, artistically and economically? About the competitive, hot-flowing life, about the characteristic colouring of the work and striving in these nationally nuanced artists, who have settled in Munich in ever-increasing numbers, be it temporarily or forever, and enjoy an intensive exchange of energy with the artistic and social environment?

There are obviously a number of problems to be discussed here that a true art writer at the height of Beit should have mastered long ago. How many exclusions would have to be made, how many new points of view would have to be established, how much really fruitful criticism would have to be exercised using completely new material! Oh, how disgusting we, who love the truth and diversity of life that renews itself and improves every day, are disgusted by this outdated, philistine graffiti, how we hate it in our passion for the new, the real, the exact.

Aged-like talkativeness, this blind fantasy, this critical and frightening whimsy! And in Munich's art life she still has the big say, that's the greatest thing about the pitifully beautiful story - the world knows the lazy farmer and, characterless and good-natured as God created her, lets him put up with stupid joy in the trivial. And the artists - they have other things to do than spoil their sense of humour through unprofitable anger about such conditions; And who knows, a little advertising is not necessary at times. You can't really get along with people who have a pen and widely distributed newspapers at their disposal, even if you despise or laugh at them in the depths of your soul or wish to all hell...

With such thoughts I walked over the lonely Königsspiel through the Propylaea to the home of one of the most excellent German-American painters. How nicely my tall friend Hermann Hartwich would smile if I told him what was rumbling around in my brain along the way! Not as if he were innocence itself, which does not yet have an organ for intellectual sins and vices! Or the calculating cleverness that only sees what is cheap on the market and in the streets! Or the absolute sausageiness that leaves five alone as soon as it has its own advantage in the bag!

No. His eyes are excellent, his heart is as good as his mind is sharp, and his conscience is in the best condition. But he is American and as such he stands above the nervous passions of our world view. He has that calm, relaxed manner that doesn't look into the past, takes the present coolly and sees the best of the future. In addition, he has the advantage of carrying out his life's work in one of those quiet corners that have saved so much cleanliness and power of creativity for themselves that they actually only feel the weakened echo of the slums of the great public.

The conditions in Munich's art writing industry can cause him nothing too fond or too sorry. They have that law for themselves, which is exhausted in the circle of specifically Bavarian peculiarities. Enviable German-American! You shouldn't always have it so good: today I want to at least attract a large audience to you and fill your little secret studio on Briennerstrasse with curious people so that you should shudder!

Today I have a very special weakness for the art-loving and art-practising offspring of free America on Bavarian soil. Perhaps these lines will awaken to them the younger realistic offspring of art writers as a qualified historian who does justice to their strong nature and puts everything in the light in a beautiful context, as a lesson and example to all the people, as the blessed Ludwig or Max would say.

Strong personality! Of course, it may be incomprehensible and antipathetic enough for the aesthetic bigwigs, the rotten Germans of romantic observance and academic drill. For there is no question that the Americans must promote rejuvenation and new creations of the most modern character, just as they have done since then in the economic world, and in the not distant future also in the intellectual and artistic world. The rooted freedom, which has grown through the American being down to the finest fibres, will also bear fruit in the field of art, as it can never mature under the inherited and accustomed pressure of old European intellectual life. The American man is safer, stronger, more powerful in his initiative, more independent in his ways and goals than the European man, who usually has to waste his best youth and best strength in bloodily working his way out of the ossifications and shackles of a thousand-year-old culture of authority to tear apart one after the other through dogmatic training.

The state and society in ancient Europe have an inexhaustible supply of powerful support and aids for the training of the intellectual and artistic middle class - for the brilliant development of a free personality with a powerful disposition, of course, they only have inhibitions and beatings. If one and the other push through despite all resistance, the victory is of course all the more glorious and the victor all the more admirable. And the state is then usually wise enough to quickly annex the triumphant striker, to cover him with high titles, dignities and letters of nobility and to turn the old revolutionary of yesterday into an innocent authority of today.

In addition to his steely nature, the American artist brings his spiritual atmosphere of freedom with him to Europe, so that he is protected against the dissolving and poisonous gases of a decaying culture. He takes the rest of the healthy, capable people, assimilates them - and thus enjoys his life and work twice as much as an independent citizen of two worlds.

Yes, yes, my dear friend Hartwich, you wouldn't have dreamed of this long preface to my visit today? To be honest, neither do I. But you just make fun. Sometimes things change on the way, especially if you are unreasonably annoyed about a stupid newspaper article that supposedly dealt with Munich art life before you leave. Now, as I said, I'm not coming alone this time, my dear Hartwich, but I've taken a few thousand friends with me. Out of old friendship, let me be so indiscreet as to tell them something about your life. Don't be afraid that, as a conscientious reporter, I will surprise you with details from your life and work that you yourself have never heard of.....

Ladies and gentlemen! This lithe, fine-boned, blonde artist with the blue, sometimes sparkling, sometimes thoughtfully introspective gaze is the German-American that appears in the best books. He was born in New York in 1853. Although his father is an American citizen, he comes from a family of glass painters that has settled in Thuringia since time immemorial; His mother, on the other hand, came from a French Huguenot family. Without a doubt an interesting cross where the Germanic element remained dominant in the type. Son of a painter, he began his apprenticeship in his father's studio, to whose strict artistic discipline he certainly owes the exemplary correctness of his confession. In 1878 he came to Munich to continue his studies at the academy. With his nose he picked out two capable masters from the high patented art school mastery: first Diez, then Loeffz. Especially in Lepteren he found something related that powerfully fueled his own congenial talent. Loeffz's influence is particularly noticeable in Hartwich's view of nature, which aims more at the subtle, deep, soulful nature of nature, at the truth of the mood effects more than the coloristic materialisation of the next best accusation.

I remember that Hartwich spoke with grateful recognition of two other masters: Prof. Riesstahl and A. Eberle; He also owes them many a subtle hint and some useful technical advice. However faithfully the good German-American keeps a record of the schoolmaster's suggestions he has received, I still do not want to vouch for the fact that one day he will not betray all of his teachers by going beyond all the conventional barriers, both technically and intellectually sails out and paints a large, realistic experimental picture that has all the school's friends throwing their hands over their heads. I don't believe that! shouts one of the listeners, after he has looked with a critical eye at a number of Hartwich's studies from different times and discovered a stereotypical bug of the most embarrassing solidity that looks like Manner. This brush does not make any realistic extra jumps!

With respect: this is a saying from a one-sided perspective version of the realistic! I reply. When you hear the word realism, don't always think of the ugly, exaggerated, trivial and tasteless thing that is cultivated by a few crazy idealists and mistakenly viewed as realism by the general public. Hartwich is a realist in the best sense of the word, because he shows us nature with the true colours and virtuoso technique of the most advanced modern school.

Alma Tadema! There is someone else who has a few pictures like ‘Soup in the Monastery’, ‘Siesta’ stuck in his eyes, Alma Tadema and Hartwich brushing out of one pot and looking out of one eye! Well, I'll take it as a compliment. Hartwich deserves it. He is so his, graceful and accomplished, like the much-celebrated Anglicized Dutchman Tadema. But here lies the difference that separates the strict realist Hartwich from the archaeological studio painter Tadema: Tadema's charming figures are pure fantasy creatures from a time long past that no living eye has seen; Hartwich, on the other hand, only gives what he himself saw and experienced as a fellow living person; he paints his pictures at the location of the action in the sun-hot pleasure on the heights of the South Tyrol Alps, in the stable, in the monastery courtyard, in the farmhouse - and his models are really the people he shows us in the picture in full characteristic life.

Whether he introduces himself to us as a landscape, genre or animal painter, he is always the profound, sensitive painter of the real, self-experienced. Pictures like ‘Under the Olives,’ which went to America, or ‘In the Autumn,’ which Prince Luitpold acquired, are unsurpassable masterpieces of realistic, poetic depiction of nature. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the real meaning of Hartwich's genius can be found in another area, and once he shifts the focus of his artistic work there, the wide impact of his skills will be revealed in full force. I mean the social image of life against the background of elementary nature. His last work, ‘The Homecoming,’ touches on the subject with extraordinary felicity: village border, field wall, further, arduous field horizon, in the foreground. The reason is the poor, hard-working woman, standing with her heavy bundle of wood, resting and taking a deep breath, next to her is the child, a careless village witch, lying with her stomach on the wall and kicking her legs: here the thoughtless lust for existence, there of human life's misery and worry, behind it nature in its touching indifference and mechanical self-sufficiency!

Let us not disturb the Master any longer, dear audience; he is well on his way to becoming a great artist. We want to meet again before his next completed image..."

Stay In Touch
Subscribe to our Wednesday newsletter for the latest finds and 10% off your order.