Farmscapes in watercolor will be featured in a program at Antique Adventures by curator Joseph Kapler, Wisconsin State Historical Society. OMHS is very excited to host the presentation about Seifert because he has very close ties with Richland County. Paul Adolf Seifert immigrated to the United States from Saxony Germany in about 1867. There is a theory that he left Germany to avoid military service. He "landed" at Richland City in Richland County. The village no longer exists because the Wisconsin River made a pretty dramatic change of course and demolished Richland City. The village of Gotham, just a short distance up river, took the place of Richland City.
Paul Seifert may have travelled on a logging raft and upon reaching Richland City he disembarked. There he met Elizabeth Kraft, and, because she and her family spoke English, he decided to stay. Kraft and Seifert were married and spent their life in the Richland City/Gotham area along the Wisconsin River.
In the later 1870's Paul began painting and he continued creating painting through the early 1890's. He also supported his family with his talent as a taxidermist and raised garden vegetables that he and Elizabeth sold. But his paintings are what we want to know more about at this program.
Paul Seifert is known as an itinerant painted. A primitive or naive painter. An outsider. Once you have seen a Seifert watercolor you KNOW what a Seifert looks like! The paintings are that distinctive. He would paint a picture of a farm scene with the buildings, representations of cows and pigs, and some of the people in the family. The people were always working or engaged in activity. No one was with out action. But all the people are painted in profile, like the Egyptian representation of people.
The paper was generally 18×24 toned paper… light gray or blue. The media he used was watercolor and pen and ink. He was very precise with his inked lines for fences! The perspective is unusual and the point of view of the painting is always slightly above the horizon level. This is a typical characteristic of the primitive painter. He said that people liked his paintings and he liked painting for them. He charged $2.00 for the paintings. Frequently he did duplicates of the paintings. Paul did create pencil sketches of the farms and then painted the scene back at his home. One pencil drawing does exists of "Laws Landing."
It is not known how many paintings Seifert completed. He left no record95 of his work. Thiere were 17 watercolor paintings in the exhibit that Mr. Kapler curated. He discovered a few more paintings but chose 17 that were most representative of Seifert's work. The exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum in Madison WI ran from April to the end of August, 2014.
In 1950 an art historian from the East had "discovered" Paul Seifert. And a painting of his and a description of the primitive artist can be found in "Three Hundred Years of American Painting" by Alexander Eliot. Paintings by Seifert are found in Cooperstown NY and in Williamsburg VA. An exhibit of his paintings on paper was held in Richland Center in the 1960's. These were paintings owned by local people and the showing was held in the Krouskop's Deparment Store.
When his age became an issue for traveling around Richland, Iowa, Grant, and Sauk counties, Seifert began painting imaginary paintings on glass. He charged $5.00 for his reverse paintings. Many of these painting probably met the same fate that the work on paper met… they were destroyed or tossed out. The reverse paintings had the same motif… a castle on a rocky hill, a body of water below such as a lake or a river, and a small boat pulled up on shore. Generally there was a cross in the composition. Seifert was quite enterprising and used aluminum foil in the windows of the castle to create a lively appearance. Reverse painting is an interesting technique and requires much planning.
Seifert created sculptural pieces as well, such as bas reliefs with a plaster substance shaped like a castle with a beach and a boat. The beach had small shells from the Wisconsin River impressed into it.
The Seifert program is co-sponsored by the Ocooch Mountain Humane Society and the Richland County Historical Society.
We encourage attendance at this interesting program about a little known artist who created wonderful watercolor paintings in the driftless area of Wisconsin.
Remember: $5 admission per person for the programs, viewing of the collections by local people, and listening in on the evaluations of vintage and antique items.