Charles Meurer

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Biography

(American, Ohio 1865 - 1955)

Born in Germany to American parents, Charles Meurer was known for his trompe l'oeil still life works, landscapes, and portraiture.

Meurer was raised in Clarksville, Tennessee. As an emerging artist, he was commissioned by Adolph Ochs, editor of the Chattanooga Times newspaper, to paint a still life incorporating the front page of the paper with a figure surrounded by books and other objects of editorial wisdom. Meurer succeeded and continued the theme in many subsequent paintings. This type of work was later described as an editorial-sanctum still life, which suggested certain qualities through symbolism, such as: authority (books), industry (pen and inkwell), and respectability (money). It became popular even in modern times for journalists' offices to acquire paintings or prints of that motif.

Meurer studied art with Frank Duveneck in Cincinnati and then went to Paris and Lyon for further study in France. He was inspired to work in the trompe l'oeil style when he saw the paintings of Michael Harnett at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition of 1886. He also recalled seeing rack pictures of John Frederick Peto in Cincinnati art galleries in the 1890s.

He settled in Terrace Park, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, and maintained a studio there for many years. He continued to paint even after both of his legs were amputated, asserting that he still had his brushes and his spirit. He eventually became the last living link to the pinnacle of the trompe l'oeil painting style.