Charles Alfred Meurer (American 1865 – 1955)

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Charles Alfred Meurer (American 1865 – 1955): Rooster and Friends – Oil on panel, 9 x 11 inches/Signed lower right

Charles Alfred Meurer’s mother was visiting family in Germany when she gave birth to Charles. They moved back to Clarksville, Tennessee, where Meurer grew up. In 1881 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and was in the grocery store with his brother, when in 1882 he bought brushes and artist’s colors and painted in his spare time. One painting, a panorama of Clarksville taken from the top of a nearby hill, was so promising that he enrolled in classes at the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1885 and studied with TS Noble, Frank Duvenek and LH Meakin. It was Harnett’s painting, “The Old Violin”, which was exhibited at the Cincinnati Centennial in 1888, which impressed him so much that he embarked on the study of still life, which within a few years made him famous. . During this same time, Meurer branched out into acting and spent a short season “raging in the barn” with a minstrel show, but the show flopped in Richmond, Indiana, and the young Meurer decided he’d better stick to painting. In 1891 he traveled to Europe, studying for a year in Lyon, France, with Pâche and Tollet, masters in figure and flower painting, and a year in the famous old Latin Quarter of Paris, where he studied at the School of Fine Arts with Gabriel Ferrier. and Henri Doucet, and the Académie Julien under William Adolph Bouguereau, Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant. He also traveled the Mediterranean countries, where he made many sketches and views of the sea, and visited a number of picturesque parts of Germany, Switzerland and France. Meurer becomes the protege of Georges Ratye, owner of the feudal castle of Château Escanin. Under the patronage of Monsieur Raytye, Meurer’s talent developed rapidly, and it was during this period that he painted his first masterpiece, the now infamous, “My Passport”. created such a furore in Europe that Meurer shipped him to the World’s Columbian Exposition, to be held in Chicago, in 1893. It was his specialty to include coinage in his still lifes, as it offered him the opportunity to create extremely fine works. hard work and meticulousness. However, this attention to detail resulted in the confiscation of the painting by the government secret service, in violation of federal laws prohibiting the reproduction of silver. Meurer returned to the United States and, after considerable difficulty, succeeded in obtaining the release of his painting, on the condition that he paint red lines of cancellation on the face of the bills of the picture. After several of his paintings were confiscated because images of currency were included in them, Meurer decided to abandon still life painting and took up landscape, pastoral, and wildlife painting. His new paintings featured a bold, impressionistic style, with the finer details only indicated—”work at a distance rather than microscopic”, as had been the case with his still lifes. Meurer painted scenes along the Miami River, in Muskegon, MI and Racine, WI. In 1911 Meurer decided he needed a vacation from his painting as a healthy exercise. He had traded some of his paintings for land along the Miami River in Terrace Park and sketched the plans for an alpine-style chalet he had built himself, using concrete for most of the structure. In the late 1930s, Meurer had both his legs amputated, but the resilient artist returned to his art, painting from his wheelchair. Meurer was a member of the Cincinnati Art Club; Moon Valley Art Club; and St. Augustine Municipal Art League (Florida). He exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago (1898, 1902); Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA); Fine Arts Society of Chicago; and the Cincinnati Museum of Art.

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