Lungkwitz, Karl Friedrich Hermann (1813–1891)

By: James Patrick McGuire

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: March 27, 2020

Hermann Lungkwitz, early Texas landscape painter and photographer, was born in Halle-an-der-Saale, a Prussian province of Saxony, on March 14, 1813, the son of Johann Gottfried and Friederike Wilhelmine (Hecht) Lungkwitz. His parents were hosiery manufacturers in Halle. From 1840 to 1843 Lungkwitz received formal training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Dresden, Saxony, under the late-romantic landscape master Adrian Ludwig Richter and became one of his most promising students. The academy awarded Lungkwitz a certificate of achievement for a view of the Elbe River in 1843. Thereafter, he made three annual summer sketching tours of the Austrian Salzkammergut and Upper Bavarian Alps. Through the remainder of the 1840s he may have worked as a professional artist in Dresden. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1850, perhaps as a result of Lungkwitz's involvement in the revolution of 1848–49 and the unsuccessful insurrection against the Saxon king in May 1849.

By way of New York City and Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), Lungkwitz and his party, including his artist brother-in-law, Friedrich Richard Petri, reached Texas in 1851. The next year they settled on a farm near Fredericksburg. There Lungkwitz remained until 1864. He and Petri could not support their families by painting and resorted to cattle raising and farming on the Hill Country frontier. After Petri's death in 1857, Lungkwitz learned photography, a profession that he followed in San Antonio with Carl G. von Iwonski from 1866 until 1870. He then moved to Austin, where he was photographer for the General Land Office under his brother-in-law, commissioner Jacob Kuechler. He remained at this position until the end of Governor E. J. Davis's Republican administration in 1874. During his tenure in the land office his daughter Martha was appointed clerk and thus became probably the first woman employee of the state of Texas.

During the 1870s and the 1880s Lungkwitz taught drawing and painting in the German-English schools run in Austin by his son-in-law Jacob Bickler, who married Lungkwitz's daughter, Martha. 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 died on February 10, 1891, at the Austin home of his daughter Helene von Rosenberg and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. Of approximately 350 of Lungkwitz's extant works, the majority are pencil and oil studies from Europe. His Texas studies and landscape paintings-of the Hill Country, old San Antonio and its Spanish missions, and Austin-span four decades and provide unexcelled examples of romantic landscape scenes and visual documentation of nineteenth-century Texas. In addition, 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.

Careful fine-line drawings done out-of-doors preceded finished oil paintings, which were completed in Lungkwitz's studio, often on commission. 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 were his favorite subjects. Luminosity and bright earth colors are typical of his detailed, carefully worked compositions. Romantic in treatment and feeling, his Texas paintings reflect his training at the Dresden academy. Lungkwitz was virtually 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. Significant examples of their art 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. A major show on Lungkwitz was exhibited by the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio in 1983–84.

Esse Forrester-O'Brien, Art and Artists of Texas (Dallas: Tardy, 1935). James Patrick McGuire, Hermann Lungkwitz (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983). Mae Estelle Meyers, The Lives and Works of Hermann Lungkwitz and Richard Petri (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1933). William W. Newcomb and Mary S. Carnahan, German Artist on the Texas Frontier: Friedrich Richard Petri (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978). Pauline A. Pinckney, Painting in Texas: The Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Visual Arts
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Painting
  • Photography

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James Patrick McGuire, “Lungkwitz, Karl Friedrich Hermann,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

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March 27, 2020