oil on canvas
25.75 x 32 inches
signed lower left
A native of Germany, Karl Albert Buehr arrived in Chicago as a youth and began working for a commercial lithographer before enrolling at the fledgling Art Institute in 1888. He graduated with honors in 1894 but continued studying at the school intermittently until 1897, when he was cited as one of its most accomplished pupils; he already had begun assisting as a teacher. Following service in the supish-American War in 1898, Buehr married Mary Hess, a painter of floral works and portrait miniatures. The couple traveled to England, where Buehr studied briefly with American expatriate artist Frank Duveneck. In Paris, he enrolled at the Académie Julian, won a gold medal when one of his works was exhibited there, and traveled in rural Holland. After visiting Venice and studying in Rome in 1905, he returned to London, where he worked under celebrated English artist and designer Frank Brangwyn.
In 1908, Buehr returned to France. He soon joined the American expatriate colony of impressionist painters in Giverny, famed as the home of Claude Monet. His associates there included Louis Ritman and Lawton Parker, from whomhe rented a neighboring house, as well as Frederick Frieseke and Richard Emil Miller. All were drawn to themes of women at leisure, posed in gardens or sun-filled interiors, and to the rich textures, patterned decorative effects, and pastel colors of a conservative impressionism favored by Chicago critics and buyers. In this setting, Buehr developed a personal style and subject type that would continue to occupy him long after his return home at the outbreak of World War I.
Buehr was appointed an instructor at the Art Institute in 1914. A beloved teacher for a quarter-century, he counted among his many pupils the painter Edgar Rupprecht. In the late 1920s, Buehr also taught at Stanford University and at the University of California at Berkeley. He was equally successful as an exhibiting painter, winning numerous awards and, in 1922, election as an associate member of the venerable National Academy of Design. Buehr painted commissioned portraits and also made etchings, but he is best known for his paintings of pretty young women in shady outdoor settings; many of these were modeled on his daughter Kathleen who, like his son, George, also became an artist. The Buehrs often summered in Wyoming, New York, the rolling hills of which appear as backgrounds in his figural paintings, and he made pure landscapes based on his travels to Vermont and to Taos, New Mexico. “The mention of his name spells sunshine on a summer day, clear, lovely women who smile from a fresh canvas, and a quantity of flowers,” wrote longtime Chicago Tribune art critic Eleanor Jewett at his death: “Storm and shadow were foreign to him.”[i]
[i] Eleanor Jewett, “U. of C. Offers Series of 12 Art Lectures,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 19, 1952.