Plein Air Painting of Richard Lorenz

June 8 – August 28, 2016

In 1886 a confident and experienced young German painter, 28-year-old Richard Lorenz, was hired to come to Milwaukee to work for the American Panorama Company. While Milwaukee became his home base for the remainder of his life, he became enamored with the American West.

Lorenz’s role in helping the American Panorama Company produce some of America’s largest paintings was to complete the equestrian portion of these enormous history paintings. Several of them were produced in Milwaukee during the last quarter of the 19th Century.  

Within a year of his arrival in Milwaukee, Lorenz began his lifelong interest in the American West. In 1887 Lorenz traveled to California which was followed up with many other Western painting trips that he took throughout the remainder of his life. These extended excursions, often on horseback, took him to at least ten western states. Lorenz preferred to explore the less traveled regions, attempting to capture in his paintings the true essence of the West. Traveling on horseback required him to carry small painting boards along with his other painting supplies in saddlebags.

Richard Lorenz in a Cowboy Hat in Bandana

Photographer Unknown

Many of the small paintings Lorenz did while on site in the West are featured in this exhibition. Lorenz created these small paintings on site to capture the character and essence of the location, time of day, and atmospheric conditions. This style of painting is called plein air painting. It is fitting that we choose to exhibit these 19th century plein air paintings by one of Wisconsin’s most notable artists during the timeframe that Cedarburg celebrates its annual week long plein air painting competition. In doing so, we welcome plein air artists and guests from throughout the Midwest.

White Horse Study, c. 1900

Oil on Board, 9.5"x15"

While Lorenz was so enamored with the American West that he took on the persona of painter cowboy, he was also a respected Milwaukee artist and art teacher who was deeply engaged in Milwaukee’s art scene. From 1886 to 1915 his work was included in exhibitions in Antwerp, Berlin, Munich, Paris, New York, Chicago, Milwaukee and San Francisco. Most of his grand western paintings compare favorably with one of his better known contemporaries, Frederic Remington. In 2005 Richard Lorenz became one of the Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award inductees awarded for lifetime contributions to Wisconsin art.   

Lorenz never married and upon his death in 1915, his sister, who was his closest relative and who was also living in America, inherited his art collection. The collection was later parceled off and we owe a debt of gratitude to an anonymous Wisconsin collector who spent the last several decades piecing together a significant portion of the original collection of Lorenz’s smaller works. Only a portion of this collection of Richard Lorenz’s work is on display at this time.

Untitled (Round Up)

Oil on Canvas, 11.5"x16.5"

Desert Canyon

Oil on Board, 10.5"x13"