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Severin Roesen was a prolific painter whose impact on the American still-life tradition of the mid-to-late 1800s was far-reaching. His work is representative of the European tenets brought to the United States by himself and other German painters who fled to this country at mid-century. The quality of Roesen's work has caused him to be represented in virtually every discussion of American still-life painting, and his works are in numerous prestigious collections, both public and private.
This book outlines the known biographical information on an elusive, somewhat itinerant artist who was active in this country from 1848, when he arrived in New York City, until 1872, when he disappeared without a trace from the city of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he had been living since 1860.
Roesen's exact birthdate is unknown, but the year of his birth has been established as 1815 or 1816 through United States census records, which document his age as forty-four in 1860 while he was living in Huntington, Pennsylvania. It is likely that he is the same Severin Roesen listed as having exhibited a floral piece in Cologne in 1847.
Records of the American Art Union in New York give evidence of Roesen's participation in exhibitions and sales from 1848 until 1852, when the Union closed. City directories list his address until 1858. His wife, Wilhelmena, and three children continued to be listed in subsequent directories after the artist left.
Roesen visited a number of communities in Pennsylvania before settling in Williamsport in 1860, where he worked for twelve years--the longest period that he would work in any American city. He had many patrons in this booming lumber town, often living by the barter system. He also held classes and had both young and old students. Roesen is not listed in the 1871-72 Williamsport city directory, and the last-dated extant painting was completed in 1872. No record of his death has come to light in that community or any other where oral tradition claims he may have gone. Thus, it is only through the quality and quantity of his works that we can truly recall this artist.
Roesen's paintings of lush floral and fruit still-lifes can be analyzed in the context of the Dutch tradition, with regard to the tastes of Victorian America, and in the light of the writings of John Ruskin. His early training in Germany may have been in the decorative arts as a painter on porcelain. Evidence of this in his American works on canvas and board include his pristine rendering of detail, heightened palette, repetition of motifs, and exclusive use of still-life themes as subject matter. His ebullient and lavish compositions parallel the sentiments expressed by the grand landscapes of the concurrent Hudson River School artists, which celebrate the splendor of America's natural resources as a source of national pride.
As a teacher, both directly and indirectly, Roesen had an impact on American painters who turned to the still-life tradition in significant numbers late in the century. Of special note is the itinerant portraitist John Francis, who also worked in rural Pennsylvania and is now better known for his still lifes. A comparison of Roesen's artistic relationship to other immigrant artists such as Charles Baum and Paul Lacroix also relates to the impact of the European school on American artists.
Although this volume cannot be considered a catalogue raisonne, a checklist of more than two hundred and fifty known works by the artist is included as an invaluable reference tool.
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Book Description Bucknell Univ Pr, 1991. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110838751849