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Max Weyl (American 1837 – 1914)

Spring Rock Creek Park 1876

Oil on canvas, 11 x 7 inches / signed lower right

soldSpring Rock Creek Park 1876

Born in Germany, Weyl immigrated to Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1853 and in 1861 moved to Washington, D.C., where he opened a jewelry store. Not trained as an artist, Weyl started painting flowers and still-lifes only as a hobby. Weyl was self-taught and was apparently too modest to display his paintings. It was not until 1870 that he began to display his artwork in the window of his jewelry store. As fate would have it, Samuel Kauffmann, president of the board of trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and publisher of the “Evening Star” newspaper, bought his watch to Weyl for repair. He was immediately taken with Weyl’s displayed artwork and brought a small landscape. Weyl’s reputation grew and he drew many Washington, D.C. patrons including the former Brazilian Ambassador, Salvador de Mendonca. In addition, Francis Cleveland, wife of U.S. President Grover Cleveland and Ellen Wilson, 1st wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, bought Weyl’s landscapes for the Whitehouse.

Georgetown University, the Virginia Military Institute, Kiplingers Washington Editors and the Cosmos Club also purchased Weyl’s paintings. In 1879, Weyl travelled to Europe to study art in Munich, Paris, Vienna and Venice. Following his return he, with other area artists, founded the Washington Landscape School. He is best known for his paintings of the Rock Creek valley (now Rock Creek Park), a picturesque area bisecting the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C.), and the tidal marshes of the Potomac River valley. Weyl’s style evolved throughout his career; his early paintings illustrate the influence of the Hudson River School, while his later works illustrate the influence of the French Barbizon School to the extent that he became known as the “Daubigny of America”, after noted French Barbizon painter, Charles François Daubigny. During the late 1890s until his death in 1914, his style was influenced by American landscapist, George Inness. On Weyl’s 70th birthday, the Corcoran Gallery held a retrospective exhibit in his honor, saying of him, “From the standpoint of art, you have contributed works of genius that will stand for all time, while your bearing as a man, citizen and friend has been of that modest and yet far-reaching character that wins the love and retains the esteem of those with whom you have come in contact.

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