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Biographical Note | A Finding Aid to the Henry Mosler papers, 1856-1929 | Digitized Collection

Henry Mosler papers, 1856-1929

Biographical Note

Henry Mosler (1841-1920) worked primarily in Ohio, New York City, and Europe as a painter of portraits and scenes of rural life in Europe. Mosler served as an artist correspondent for
Harper's Weekly
during the Civil War.
Born in Silesia (Poland) in 1841, Henry Mosler immigrated to New York City with his family in 1849. In the early 1850s the family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Mosler received art instruction from James Henry Beard, becoming an accomplished portrait painter and an active participant in the Cincinnati art scene.
Following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Mosler became an artist correspondent for
Harper's Weekly
, documenting the Western Theater in Kentucky and Tennessee. He served as a volunteer aide-de-camp with the army of Ohio from 1861-1863 and was present at the engagement at Green River, and "present and under fire" at the battles of Shiloh and Perryville.
Immediately thereafter, Mosler relocated to Dusseldorf for two years and attended the Royal Academy, followed by six months in Paris where he studied with painter Ernest Hébert. In 1866 Mosler returned to Cincinnatti where his portraits and genre scenes enjoyed growing popularity.
In 1875 Mosler traveled to Munich and two years later settled in Paris from where he enjoyed critical and financial success both in Europe and in the United States. Mosler was known for his genre paintings of peasant life in rural Brittany and he became a regular participant in Salon exhibitions and won honorable mention in the Salon of 1879, when his painting
Le Retour
, became the first work by an American artist to be purchased by the French government. In 1888 he won the gold medal at the Paris Salon and in 1892 he was made chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and officier de l'Académie.
Mosler returned to the United States temporarily during this period, including a trip in 1885-1886 to visit the West and collect material for paintings of Native American life.
In 1894 Mosler returned to the United States and settled in New York, where he became a popular teacher and an active participant in the New York art scene. In 1895 he was made an associate member of the National Academy of Design, and in his last decades took up landscape painting during summers in the Catskill mountains, and produced genre paintings depicting scenes from colonial and rural life. Mosler continued to enjoy widespread popularity until his death in 1920.