OTTENDORFER, Oswald


Description:
Half-length holding a copy of his newspaper. Oil on canvas.

Location:
Present Whereabouts Unknown.

Provenance:
The offices of the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, 1909.

Bibliography:
New York Commercial Advertiser, January 9, 1901
New York Sun, January 12, 1901
New York Sun, January 13, 1901
New Yorker Staats Zeitung, January 13, 1901
Post, Denver, Colorado, January 20, 1901
Art Interchange, February 1901
Town Topics, May 2, 1901
New York Herald, Sunday, October 19, 1902
Broadway Magazine, March 1904, p. 457 (reproduced).
New Yorker Staats-Zeitung, Sunday, November 28, 1909.

Exhibition:
KRAUSHAAR ART GALLERIES, 260 Fifth Avenue (between 28th & 29th Streets), New York, January 5 – 19, 1901

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Notes

The sitter was born in Moravia on February 26, 1826, studied Law, and took an active part in the Revolutions of 1848 against the government of Metternich. He fled to Switzerland in 1849 and then came to New York in 1850, where he found employment as a subordinate in the office of the German newspaper the New Yorker Staats Zeitung, and finally he became its manager, after the death of the owner, Mr. Jacob Uhl (whose wife, born Anna Behr Uhl [1815-1884], later married Ottendorfer on July 23, 1859, and who happened to be the mother of Anna Woerishoffer). He died in New York on 15 December 1900.

The bibliography clearly refers to an early version of the picture. It was described in the Post, Denver, Colorado, January 20, 1901, as ‘…a strong picture of a strong man’; and in the Art Interchange, February 1901 as ‘…painted with almost aggressive vigor…’

Further Notes:

It is possible that Anna Woerishoffer commissioned this portrait of her stepfather as a portrait of her ‘father’ in 1900 rather than that of her natural father Jacob Uhl (died 1852).

Anna Woerishoffer wrote a letter to Muller-Ury on April 5, 1900 from the Savoy, New York (artist’s papers) enclosing ‘..a check of twelve hundred dollars for the very satisfactory picture of my father.’ She added she would have the picture sent just before she left. She wrote again from the Savoy on April 25, 1900 (same source) as follows:

‘My dear Mr. Muller-Ury,

My best and heartiest thanks for the splendid picture of my father. I am very much pleased with it and think it an excellent likeness. I was very sorry to have missed you when you called and hope to see you before I leave.

           With renewed thanks yours

                         Very sincerely, Anna Woerishoffer’

Writing again on September 20, 1900 from Woodhurst, Crawley, Sussex to thank the artist for a photograph of the picture of her father which had just arrived without a card (’…it can only be you that sent it…’) she says: ‘…I therefore hasten to thank you for the same and to tell you again how very good it is. Carlo and Nettie [Seilern] think it an excellent likeness of father and say it must be one of your best pictures. I do not think they are mistaken…’

Nettie herself wrote to the artist from Woodhurst (undated letter fragment; same source) at about the same time, addressing him, with a nickname she had given him:

‘Dear Fraud,

A few days ago the photo of grandfather’s picture arrived, and we are simply all too delighted with it. It is quite excellent, and such a striking likeness – It is exactly like grandfather’s. I’d give anything to see the picture, for it must be a remarkably good portrait, as to likeness and technique. I showed it to Dr. Jacobi who was just as much pleased with it as we are. Thank you so very much for having sent it…’

Until such time as a portrait of Jacob Uhl appears, it will probably be best to consider that the portrait which was commissioned by Anna Woerishoffer was not a posthumous one of Jacob Uhl (who had died when she was merely three years old) but of Ottendorfer who she had known throughout her childhood.


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