Richard Lentz, the first professional artist in Dallas, was born in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Lithuania), about 1857. He probably arrived in Dallas, Texas, in September or October 1884; he was twenty-seven years old when he filed declaration of intent papers on November 3, 1884. According to early newspaper accounts, Lentz was a member of the "Munich School" of artists. From 1884 to 1886 he was an art instructor for the Dallas Art Academy, on Elm Street. In 1886 he became head of the art department at the German-American High School, and in 1887 he taught oil painting and crayon drawing in his own studio at 911 Elm Street. That summer his painting View of Dallas From Oak Cliff attracted a "perfect crush of spectators" to his gallery. Described as a view of "fair Dallas, fading into a blue mist, with its church spires having the glow of sunset, and resting in a valley of woods," this painting was traded for a residential lot on Seventh Street between Cliff and Eads Avenue in Oak Cliff. Civic leaders were so impressed with the number of visitors to Lentz's studio that they added the first fine-arts exhibition to the State Fair of Texas in the fall of 1887. Thus Lentz stimulated the first public interest in the fine arts in Dallas. From 1887 to 1889 he continued teaching oil painting and crayon drawing in his studio. His brother Max, proprietor of the Dallas Musical Library at the same location, imported foreign sheet music and art reproductions for the citizens of Dallas. When the German-American High School closed, Lentz lost his primary source of income, and by 1890 the Lentz brothers had begun an architecture firm. The decline of real estate development, brought about by the financial panic of 1893, must have been the reason they left Dallas. About 1895 Lentz returned to Germany.
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Diana Church, Guide to Dallas Artists, 1890–1917 (Plano, Texas, 1987).
Art and Architecture
Arts and Crafts
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
March 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: