On previewing the recent Art of the American West & Texas Art auction at Heritage, I noticed a Victorian-era portrait in the catalog, but couldn’t find it on the wall. I asked where it was and a gentleman brought it out to me explaining that “We just didn’t have room for everything.” The portrait was by Henry August Schwabe (1843-1916) and carried the catalog title of Portrait of Charles Schreyvogel (1861-1912). It was de-accessioned from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Once home, I found that the sitter was also an artist. It reminded me of the portraits Thomas Eakins had painted of his friends, including artist Charles Linford. I had never heard of Schreyvogel or Schwabe, however but their stories prove intereting.
In addition to the Cowboy & Western Heritage
Museum,works by Schreyvogel are included in the collections of the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma. As you might have guessed, he was a painter of Western subject matter in the days of the disappearing frontier but did much of his work in his studio (or its rooftop) in decidedly non-Western Hoboken, New Jersey.
A work by Schreyvogel might not have caught my eye had it been in the gallery. Form my limited knowledge, his works do not seem to match my taste. Although he may be the better-known of the two, to me Schwabe seems the better painter.
It could be the training. While Schreyvogel was largely self-taught, Schwabe studied in Cologne, Munich and Paris and with William Merritt Chase in New York. The two were close friends, and Schreyvogel attended classes Schwabe was teaching at the Newark Art League. The two frequently sketched together in the New Jersey countryside.
The portrait sold for $2200, more than I anticipated a Victorian-era portrait would bring.