S.M. Swenson (1816-1896)
A Swedish immigrant and one of Texas' early capitalists and large scale ranchers, began building a villa in the Govalle section of Austin in 1860. Because of his staunch Unionism, Swenson fled Texas during the Civil War and afterward made his home in New York City. Lungkwitz's sketch and oil painting of Swenson's Ruin were completed during the 1870s, and were mentioned for the first time in the Austin Daily Democratic Statesman in January 1878. The unfished mansion was a favorite site for picnics during the late nineteenth century and was eventually demolished.
Reference; Austin Daily Democratic Statesman, January 13, 1878
Swante M. Swenson (February 24, 1816 – June 13, 1896) was the founder of the SMS ranches in West Texas. It was through his efforts that Swedish immigration to Texas was begun in 1848. In 1972, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Early Texas landscape painter and photographer Karl Friedrich Hermann Lungkwitz was born on March 14, 1813 in Halle-an-der-Saale, Saxony, while Napoleon's artillery bombarded the city. The majority of three hundred fifty extant Lungkwitz works are pencil and oil studies from Europe. His Romantic landscape paintings of the Texas Hill Country, old San Antonio, its Spanish missions, and Austin, were painted over four decades, documenting nineteenth-century Texas. Two pre-Civil War lithographs (Dr. Ernest Kapp's Water-Cure, Comal County, Texas and Friedrichsburg, Texas) and one postwar lithograph (San Antonio de Bexar) have been identified.
Lungkwitz completed his paintings in his studio, based on careful pencil drawings done at favorite locales like Enchanted Rock, Bear Mountain, and other promontories north of Fredericksburg, which Lungkwitz called the Granite Mountains, and the Guadalupe, Pedernales, Llano, and Colorado river valleys. Reflecting his training at the Dresden Academy, his detailed paintings are luminous with bright earth colors.
Lungkwitz studied with Adrian Ludwig Richter, a Romantic landscapist, at the Royal Academy in Dresden from 1840-1843. Lungkwitz received a certificate of achievement from the Academy for a view of the Elbe River in the latter year. During three summers, he painted the Austrian Salzkammergut and Upper Bavarian Alps. Until 1850, when he emigrated to America with his family, Lungkwitz was probably a professional artist in Dresden. He may have had to flee Saxony because of participation in the revolution of 1848-49 and insurrection against the Saxon king in May 1849.
After six months in Wheeling, West Virginia, Lungkwitz, his artist brother-in-law Friedrich Richard Petri, and their families, left for Texas. He arrived in New Braunfels in July 1851, remaining six months before moving west to Fredericksburg, where they settled on a farm in 1852, where Lungkwitz remained until 1864. Not surprisingly, on the harsh, hill-country frontier, the two artists could not make a living from their painting, so they resorted to farming and raising cattle.
When Petri died in 1857, Lungkwitz learned photography, a profession that he followed in San Antonio with Carl G. von Iwonskiqv from 1866 until 1870. Between 1859 and 1861 Lungkwitz, Wilhelm Carl Augustus Thielepape, and photographer William DeRyee, visited New Braunfels, Austin, the Texas Hill Country, Indianola, and towns along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers exhibiting their works and giving magic-lantern shows.
Moving to Austin in 1870, he was employed as a draftsman and photographer for the General Land Office. His daughter Martha may have been the first woman employee of the state of Texas when she was appointed a clerk in the Office. Lungkwitz apparently did not paint during his tenure on this job. When he lost his employment in 1874 after a change in political administration, he began to paint again in and around Austin and the Texas Hill Country for the next fifteen years.
During the 1870s and the 1880s, he also gave lessons and taught at the German-American Ladies College, Alta Vista Institute, and the Austin Female Collegiate Institute, all in Austin, and apparently run by his son-in-law Jacob Bickler. He also worked on the sheep ranch of his daughter Eva Klappenbach near Johnson City and gave private art lessons in Austin and Galveston, where he periodically visited the Bicklers after they moved there in 1887.
Lungkwitz' shared a studio with artist William Henry Huddle, painting, it is said, the landscape parts of Huddle's painting of Santa Ana's surrender and portrait of Davey Crockett, which now hang in the foyer of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Lungkwitz lived, in 1891, with Jacob Bickler in Galveston. Karl Lungkwitz died of pneumonia on February 10, 1891, at the Austin home of his daughter Helene von Rosenberg and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery there.
Lungkwitz was nearly forgotten for a generation after his death, but his works, along with those of Richard Petri, have been exhibited in Texas museums and universities since the 1930s. Examples of both artists' work can be found at the Texas Memorial Museum, University of Texas at Austin; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; and the San Antonio Museum Association. Lungkwitz was given a major exhibition by the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio in 1983-84.
Other collections holding the work of Karl Hermann Lungkwitz include the Center for American History; Governors Mansion, Austin (lent by Witte Museum, San Antonio); Capitol Historical Artifact Collection, Austin; Comfort Historical Museum; Dallas Historical Society; Torch Energy Advisors, Inc., Houston; Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, and Witte Museum, San Antonio; and San Antonio Public Library.
Lungkwitz's exhibitions include:
Yanaguana Society Exhibition of Old San Antonio Paintings
Centennial Exhibition of Early San Antonio Paintings
The Early Scene: San Antonio
Remembering the Alamo: The Development of a Texas Symbol
The Art and Craft of Early Texas (1988),
John and Deborah Powers, "Texas Painters, Sculptors, and Graphic Artists"