Frederick Kemmelmeyer


(active 1788–1816)
was an atypical naive artist in that he ambitiously tackled historical scenes rather than portraits. Among his subjects are
The First Landing of Columbus
(c. 1805),
The Battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781
General Weyne Obtains a Complete Victory over the Miami Indians, August 20, 1794
(c. 1800), and threeversions of
General George Washington Reviewing the Western Army at Fort Cumberland
(all c. 1800). Some of these may have been based on print sources, asyet unidentified. Nothing is known about Kemmelmeyer’s early life or training. His career in the United States is traceable primarily through advertisements and city directories. Theartist is almost certainly the same Frederick Kimmelmeiger who became a naturalized citizen in Annapolis, Maryland, on October 8, 1788, and who advertised hisdrawing school and his miniature- and sign-painting business that same year. Kemmelmeyer appears to have taught in several Baltimore locations throughout the next decade. From 1803 he moved frequently—in June of that year to Alexandria, Virginia, wherehe offered painting, gilding, and drawing commissions; a few months later he moved across the river to the busy port of Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. By 1805 hewas advertising in the Frederick and Hagerstown, Maryland, newspapers. From western Maryland he went north to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and providedservices as an ornamental, landscape, and miniature painter.During the last years of his career, Kemmelmeyer executed portraits in pastel, and at least two are inscribed and dated.
James McSherry Coale
(1811) depicts alittle boy from Frederick County, Maryland, while
Catharina Weltzheimer
(1816) portrays a woman who was a tavern keeper in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.These late portraits in chalk display the palette of which Kemmelmeyer was so fond, regardless of the medium, tending heavily toward pinks and blues. He alsoexecuted paintings in oil, both on canvas and on paper. In all, fewer than twenty works by the artist are known. Those that are identified share an attention to detail,stiffly rendered figures, and crisp outlines. Kemmelmeyer seems to have particularly appreciated the curving contours of horses, and liked to emphasize the arch of ahorse’s neck especially.
Adams, E.Bryding. “Frederick Kemmelmeyer, Maryland Itinerant Artist.”
vol. 125, no. 1 (January 1984): 284–292.Bivins, John, and Forsyth Alexander.
The Regional Arts of the Early South: A Sampling from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.
Winston-Salem, N.C.,1991