William Hahn (Carl Wilhelm Hahn) was a versatile and prolific artist, painting portraits, still lifes, animals, and interiors, as well as the genre scenes for which he became well known. Hahn entered the Royal Academy of Art in Dresden at the age of fifteen, where he studied for five years.1 In his last year of study he enrolled in the master class of artist Julius Hübner (1806–1882), who was well known for his history and portrait paintings. Hahn continued his education for an additional year (1854–1855) at the Düsseldorf Academy where he studied figure and animal painting. Artists from the academy, including many Americans, came to be known for the “Düsseldorf style,” which is characterized by superior draftsmanship, dramatic composition, and theatrical light effects. Hahn exhibited work in Dresden and Düsseldorf and also sent work for exhibition to the United States—to Boston, New York, and San Francisco.
In Düsseldorf in 1869, Hahn met California artist William Keith (1839–1911), and the two became friends. In fall 1871, Hahn went to the United States where he visited Keith in Maine, then, in December, established a studio in Boston. In January, Keith joined him there, and in the spring, the two artists traveled to San Francisco, where they also shared a studio. Throughout the 1870s, Hahn was an active participant of the San Francisco art community, becoming a member of both the Bohemian Club and the San Francisco Art Association, where he served as director in 1876. While living in San Francisco, Hahn made many sketching trips throughout California, Nevada, and Alaska. He also traveled to the eastern United States and exhibited work at the National Academy of Design and at the Brooklyn Art Association. Around 1882, he left the United States, living for a time in London, then in Dresden, where he died in 1887.
Works in Our Collection
Pasture Fire with Animals
Oil on canvas, 1874
20 x 36 inches
Gift of the Carl S. Dentzel Estate