aniel A. Wehrschmidt (1861-1932), an Ohio artist who emigrated to England in his early twenties, exibited ten paintings, all at the Royal Academy, London, between 1886 and 1893. In 1895 Algernon Graves listed his specialty as engraving; however, Bénézit describes him as a portrait painter and a lithographer as well as an engraver. His only work hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, London, is his portrait of the Arctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, whom Wehrschmidt painted in 1905.
Robert Falcon Scott. 1905. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
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Born in Cuyahoga County, near Cleveland, on 24 November 1861, the son of a German immigrant tailor, graphic artist Daniel A. Wehrschmidt lived long past the late Victorian era in which he rose to prominence as a mezzotint artist, illustrator, and painter in oils. Active in his native Cleveland's art scene, by the age of eighteen he had already exhibited his works locally. Until 1882, he was merely a young graphic artist, teacher, and member of the Cleveland Art Club. Then, late in 1882, he met Hubert Von Herkomer during the latter's ten-week tour of the United States. Impressed with the young American's work, Herkomer invited Wehrschmidt to join him in a new venture in England, a school to train illustrators and painters in Bushey, Hertfordshire. Wehrschmidt served as teacher and eventually co-owner at the school, where he remained until 1896. From the inception of his career as an independent artist in England in 1886 until his work on the Tess illustrations in 1891 Wehrschmidt had exhibited seven paintings, mostly portraits.
From the relative quality of their illustrations and from the order in which their works appear one may venture to guess that, having mapped out which instalments he himself wished to illustrate for the serialisation, Hubert Von Herkomer called upon his pupils in the order of his confidence in them as individual graphic artists, beginning with his assistant teacher at Bushey, the American painter and lithographer Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, and ending with artists relatively unknown today, Joseph Syddall (1864-1942) and Ernest Brough Johnson (1866-1949). Since Herkomer assigned the production of eight plates (five of which, including that for the final instalment, are full page) to Wehrschmidt, one must conclude that the professor's confidence in his drawing master was high.
Wehrschmidt had ten showings in Great Britain, all at the Royal Academy, between 1886 and 1893. Born in 1861, Wehrschmidt outlived novelist Thomas Hardy, for whose novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic he contributed seven of twenty-five illustrations, by only four years. By the time of the Tess serialisation in 1891, Wehrschmidt had exhibited seven paintings, mostly portraits. "The Love Letter" (after the manner of Luke Fildes), painted in 1892, and "Portrait of a Haymaker" (1894) reveal his interest in genre painting. During a visit to friends and family back in Cleveland in December 1888, Wehrschmidt exhibited a selection of his mezzotints at James P. Ryder's gallery, so that his knowledge of the technical aspects of commercial illustration was probably considerable by the time that he and Herkomer received the Graphic's commission to do Tess.
In 1891, his permanent address was Rose Cottage, Bushey Heath, suggesting that the artist would have been familiar on a daily basis with rural scenes and characters. This knowledge is best reflected in his illustration for July 18, "In stagnant blackness they waited through an interval which seemed endless" (depicting the death of Prince, the Durbeyfield horse), although he provides convincing group portraits of rustic types in his plates for August 15, October 10, and December 12. Each of his illustrations has an average of four figures, although three contain only two figures each. Tess appears in seven of Wehrschmidt's plates, Angel in five, and the three dairymaids in two.
After 1904, when Herkomer closed the school at Bushey, Daniel Wehrschmidt won numerous medals for his paintings and prints, in particular at the 1904 St. Louis Exhibition and at San Francisco's Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915. As a result of the First World War he anglicized his name to "Veresmith." By the time of his death on 22 February 1932 Great Britain had acknowledged his work as a painter by admitting him to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
Note: John Carpenter e-mailed in February 2018 to add that “Wehrschmidt (by now ‘D Veresmith’) was also an early member of the newly-formed Society of Graphic Art, and showed two works at the SGA's first annual exhibition in London in 1921 [Source: Exhibition catalogue].”
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire Critique et Documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. Paris: Librairie Grund, 1976. Vol. 1.
Graves, Algernon. A Dictionary of Artists Who Have Exhibited Works in the Principal London Exhibitions from 1760 to 1893. London: Henry Graves, 1895.
Hardy Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, il. Hubert Von Herkomer, Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, Ernest Borough Johnson, and Joseph Syddall. The Graphic, Vol. 44 (4 July-26 December 1891): 11-761.
Haverstock, Mary Sayre, et al. Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographical Dictionary. Kent, Ohio: Kent State U. P., 2000.
Last modified 26 August 2016