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Home First Posted: Jan 3, 2011
Jan 2, 2011

Gari Melchers/American Artist


Gari Melchers (1860-1932)

My husband, Bill, and I went to visit Gari Melchers Home and Studio which is located in Falmouth, VA right outside of Fredericksburg, VA. We very much enjoyed our visit of the home and lovely art work. We learned about this museum from my best friend's sister, Debbie--an artist. Eileen envited us to enjoy Christmas dinner with she and her family. It was beyond lovely. We had never heard of Gari Melchers and were so pleased to learn about his life and life's work.

Julius Garibaldi Melchers (August 11, 1860 - November 30, 1932) was an American artist. He was one of the leading American proponents of naturalism. The son of German-born American sculptor Julius Theodore Melchers, Gari Melchers was a native of Detroit, Michigan, who at seventeen studied art at Düsseldorf under von Gebhardt, and after three years went to Paris, where he worked at the Académie Julian, and the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he studied under Lefebvre and Boulanger. Attracted by the pictorial side of Holland, he settled at Egmond. In 1882, Melchers presented The Letter, painted the previous year in Brittany, at the Paris Salon; this first presentation by a young artist was well received. His first important Dutch picture, The Sermon, brought him favorable attention at the Paris Salon of 1886.

He became a member of the National Academy of Design, New York; the Royal Academy of Berlin; Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris; International Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers, London, and the Secession Society, Munich; and, besides receiving a number of medals, his decorations include the Legion of Honor, France; the order of the Red Eagle, Germany; and knight of the Order of St Michael, Bavaria. In 1889, he and John Singer Sargent became the first American painters to win a Grand Prize at the Paris Universal Exposition. His paintings from the World Columbian Exposition (1893) held in Chicago are now in the Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In 1909 he was appointed Professor of Art at the Grand Ducal Saxony School of Art in Weimar, Germany. In 1915 he returned to New York City to open a studio at the Beaux-Arts building at Bryant Park. From 1920 to 1928 he served as the president of the New Society of Artists. He spent his final years at Belmont Estate in Falmouth, Virginia, near Fredericksburg.

Besides portraits, his chief works are: The Supper at Emmaus, in the Krupp collection at Essen; The Family, National Gallery, Berlin; Mother and Child, Luxembourg; and the decoration, at the Congressional Library, Washington, Peace and War.
Gari Melchers

Note: Unlike many artists, Gari Melchers was not a starving artist. He was quite wealthy in his time.


Mural of War, 1896


The Smithy-Painted circa 1910.

"The Smithy, painted circa 1910, is an exemplary painting from Gari Melcher's mature period that combines the finest qualities of his oeuvre. A monumental and heroic depiction of the working class in Holland, The Smithy's combination of naturalism, narrative detail and well-developed still life elements result in a captivating masterwork. The Smithy pays homage to the sanctity of family, as well as to the life of a tradesmen and his livelihood. In the present work a blacksmith sits in the foreground gazing directly at the viewer with his cat nestled against his leg. A younger man, likely the blacksmith's son, stands behind the central figure to the left, and a woman, possibly the young man's wife or sister, stands at right. She also stares out at the viewer, while he looks down, distracted by his wares. There are no overt actions in the painting, rather it subtly suggests a narrative, gathering several protagonists devoted to the success of a family trade. Melchers brings together his unique stylistic synthesis of the academic and the Impressionistic--a style born of varied education in the arts at a moment of broad changes in European art. Bridging two artistic traditions, the painting demonstrates the artist's free brushstroke, thick application of paint, and fascination with strong decorative detail, all the while retaining an academic sensibility." Christie's

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Worldwide Arts Resources
Gari Melchers Home and Studio

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