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Charles Alfred Meurer (American, 1865-1955)

Art

Also known as:  Meurer, C. A.

Birth Place: Germany (Europe)

Biography:
The last of the great nineteenth-century trompe-l'oeil painters, Cincinnati-based Charles Meurer invented the "editorial sanctum," a genre of still life in which the objects, notably the front page of a newspaper, celebrate a particular individual. Born in Germany and raised in Tennessee, Meurer studied with Franck Duveneck at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in the mid-1880s and pursued additional training at the Academie Julian and the Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In terms of facture, his paintings bear some mark of his tight academic training in Paris; although in terms of subject matter, his work is much more Germanic in flavor. Meurer's encounter with William Harnett's trompe-l'oeil paintings at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition of 1886 and with John Peto's rack paintings in Cincinnati art galleries profoundly shaped his career. By the mid-1890s he had begun to specialize in still lifes of gentlemen's paraphernalia - beer steins, playing cards, letters, pipes, cigars, and currency - and his realistic reproduction of money, considered unlawful, frequently landed him in trouble with government officials. In 1889, Meurer debuted his editorial sanctum, a still-life portrait of Adolph Ochs, editor of the Chattanooga Daily Times. Its success led to others in this same genre, including the 1904 Still Life with Times-Star, commemorating then Secretary of War William Howard Taft.

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