Karl Albert Buehr
Woman Resting Below a Tree
oil on canvas
25.75 x 32 inches
signed lower left
Provenance: Private collection, NY; Berry Hill Galleries; Private collection, MN; Private collection, VA
One of the early Chicago artists to adopt Impressionism, Karl Buehr became a figure and landscape painter. As a figure painter, his specialty became “gorgeously colored images of young women on porches overlooking brilliant summertime gardens.” (Kennedy 98) His later work often showed a female figure with serious expression engaging the viewer with a direct stare. In his landscapes, he was noted for his strong coloration. In a December 1896 student exhibition at the Art Institute, a reviewer for the Chicago Times Herald described Buehr’s landscapes as “blithe and joyous” with “country roads brilliant in sunlight . . . fields rich in summer verdure, under soft skies painted in a high, musical key.” (Gerdts 68)
Buehr was born as one of seven sons to a prosperous German family who emigrated to America and settled in Chicago in 1869. He was first exposed to his signature style of Impressionism in 1888 when he enrolled in night classes at the Art Institute while working in the shipping department of a lithographic firm near the Institute. He remained a student there until 1897 and was recognized in a Chicago Times Herald editorial of June 13, 1897 as one of the Institute’s most outstanding pupils.
The next year, his art career was temporarily put on hold when he briefly enlisted with the U.S. Army in the Spanish American War. In 1899, he resumed his art studies, this time with Frank Duveneck. He exhibited a painting at the Paris Salon of 1900 and studied at the Academy Julian with Raphael Collin for two years. Then he went to England, enrolling in the London Art School, but had returned to Paris by 1908. During this time, he began painting at Giverny, the home of Impressionist leader Claude Monet (1840-1926, and by 1912, Buehr was listing that village as his home address. One of his good friends and associates at Giverny was Frederick Frieseke.
One of Buehr’s paintings from that time, News from Home, was exhibited in 1913 at the French Salon in Paris and at the annual exhibit of the Chicago Art Institute. It shows a woman in floral dress sitting on a porch with a background with potted flowers and lush greenery background. Of his painting done at Giverny, Buehr wrote in 1912 to William Macbeth of Macbeth Galleries in New York: “My figures painted in and around Giverny are costumed and in appropriate out door settings.” (Gerdts, 68)
In 1914, he returned to the United States and took a teaching position in Chicago at the Art Institute, which he held for the remainder of his life. He was married to Mary Hess, a painter of miniatures and decorative works.