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Pohl, Hugo D. (1878–1960)

Caroline Remy Biography Entry

Hugo D. Pohl, painter, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 11, 1878. He studied art under Julius Theodore Melchers in Detroit, then continued his training under Joseph W. Gies at the Detroit Museum of Art. Further study led him to New York and then to France to work under Jean Paul Laurens at the Académie Julien. Meanwhile his paintings were being exhibited in several galleries throughout the United States. In 1908 he was commissioned by the International Harvester Company in Chicago to paint murals depicting harvests in various countries; these murals on the walls of the company's new office building took eighteen months to complete.

Pohl decided in 1918 to tour the Southwest to find themes for his work and incidentally became a pioneer in automobile trailers. He constructed a traveling studio on an automobile chassis and started from Chicago in July 1919 on a long trip through the West-to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Paintings of the California missions during this period are among his best works and provide a valuable historic record.

In the early 1920s, after an interval of visits to Detroit and Washington, D.C. (where he was director of the Art League), Pohl moved to San Antonio, Texas, established a studio, and became president and director of the San Antonio Academy of Art. He specialized in mural decoration, genre, and historical subjects and painted the design for the first curtain at the San Antonio municipal auditorium. Among his best-known paintings are Founding of San Antonio and Portrait of Mayor [Bryan] Callaghan. His pupils included many artists who later became well known in Texas. In the January 1938 issue of the San Antonio publication Naylor's Epic Century (see NAYLOR, JOE OLIVER), Pohl was introduced as art editor, and a number of his drawings and paintings of San Antonio scenes were included. He died on July 20, 1960, in San Antonio. In October 1961 the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum presented an exhibit of his work, to which the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts (see COPPINI, POMPEO) in San Antonio lent forty pictures.

Files, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio. Files, Witte Museum, San Antonio. Frances Battaile Fisk, A History of Texas Artists and Sculptors (Abilene, Texas, 1928; facsimile rpt., Austin: Morrison, 1986). Naylor's Epic Century, January 1938. Cecilia Steinfeldt, The Texas Collection: Regional Art in the San Antonio Museum Association (MS, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Art and Architecture
  • Visual Arts
  • Painting

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

Caroline Remy, “Pohl, Hugo D.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 26, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 28, 2019