Monday, April 6, 2009
William Sartain and Alfred Maurer -- Alike in So Many Ways
William Sartain and Alfred Maurer were both painters. They also both had fathers involved in the printing business. Alfred Maurer's father Louis had been a Currier and Ives lithographer and ran a lithography venture, Maurer and Heppenheimer. Alfred apprenticed there before moving on to his painting career. Recall from our Maurer week, Louis Maurer never approved of his son's painting and withheld his approval during the seventeen years they lived together after Alfred returned from Europe. Alfred committed suicide in the doorway to his father's room two weeks after his father's death at one hundred years of age.
William Sartain followed his father into the engraving world. His father, John Sartain, was known as the most accomplished engraver in America. William or Willy as his friends called him trained as an engraver with his father, apprenticed to his brother Samuel, fought in the Civil War and subsequently helped his father on commissions without recompense. His work was picked up by one publisher. Being a smart business person, Willy invested that money in government bonds. From those proceeds and continued revenue from royalties, he was able to achieve his dream of becoming a painter, spending eight years in Europe.
However, much like Alfred Maurer, he sought his father's approval. And much like Maurer that approval was denied to him. So you'll have a better appreciation of how bad their relationship was, keep in mind Sartain was back in the United States in time for the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. His father who was in charge of the American painting section made certain his son's work was not accepted. At some point as a result of this type of rejection, Sartain destroyed much of his early work. Fortunately for Sartain and for us, his father died in 1897 and was not able to continue such unbridled rejection of his son.
The mezzotint shown in today's posts is what John Sartain wanted his son to continue to create. William Sartain was driven to create more and ventured forth to paint beautiful tonal landscapes, Oriental paintings and many portraits before his death in 1924.