Herman Wessel


Herman Wessel


Sunny Afternoon (Ile-aux-Moines)
Oil on Canvas
24 x 28 inches
Signed Lower Right

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Born January 16, 1878 in Vincennes, Indiana, Herman Wessel was a child of Prussian immigrants. He attended the strict German Lutheran school in Vincennes and became fluent in the German language. At age 13, he moved to Cincinnati to study art in this community whose prominent art leaders were Henry Farny, L.H. Meakin, Edward Potthast, Joseph Sharp, and Frank Duveneck.  He enrolled in the Cincinnati Art Academy in 1896 and studied with Caroline Lord and Duveneck, and from Duveneck learned the principles that guided his painting throughout his career.

In 1904, he went to Europe and studied at the Royal Academy in Munich, where Duveneck had studied. Wessel attended the Acadamie Julian in Paris under Jean Paul Laurens. While in Paris he also studied at the Academie Colarossi and was honored with a medal for excellent draftsmanship and was a part-time instructor.

In 1908, he returned to Cincinnati and began a forty-year teaching career at the Art Academy. Many traveling exhibitions came to the Academy, and through these, he was exposed to Impressionism. He exhibited paintings all over the country including the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Society of Western Artists and the Pennsylvania Academy of Art.

In 1917, he married Bessie Hoover, also an Academy faculty member, and together they became leading figures in the art world of Cincinnati. They shared a studio near their home in Eden Park, where they spent the rest of their lives and often exhibited together. They spent most of their summers away from home traveling in Europe and throughout the United States.

Herman enjoyed artistic challenges and the complex procedures and strategies involved in mural painting. Throughout Cincinnati he completed murals for the Belvedere apartments, Federal Reserve Building, the Salem Presbyterian Church and the solarium of Holmes Hospital. In the 1940s, he became an active restorer of paintings of Cincinnati collectors, and he and Bessie became experts on authenticating Duveneck paintings. 


Cincinnati Art Academy with Duveneck; Academie Julian, Paris with J.P.Laurens, 1906


Cincinnati Art Club; Cincinnati Professional Artists


Soc. Western Artists, 1915 (prize); Corcoran Gal. Biennial, 1916; PAFA Ann., 1919-1920; Atlanta, 1920 (prize); Columbus, 1922; AIC


CM; WPA murals, Scioto County Court House, Fed. Reserve Bank, Holmes Hospital, West Hills H.S., all in Cincinnati; Ohio State Office Bldg., Columbus; USPO, Springfield, OH


Askart; WW59; WW47; Falk, Exh. Record Series