Wueste, Louise Heuser (1805–1874)

By: James Patrick McGuire

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: September 1, 1995

Louise Heuser Wueste (Wüste), the first professional woman artist and portrait painter in San Antonio and western Texas during the 1860s and 1870s, was born in Gummersbach, Germany, on June 6, 1805, the daughter of Heinrich Daniel Theodor and Louise (Jügel) Heuser. Her father had a successful business in manufacturing and importing paints, and her sisters married Karl Friedrich Lessing and Adolph Schroedter. Wueste later studied portraiture with Friedrich Boser and Karl Ferdinand Sohn, both eminent artists of the Düsseldorf Academy, a recognized center for realistic, historical narrative painting. Louise married Peter Wilhelm Leopold Wueste, a physician, in 1824 and had three children before his death at the age of thirty-seven. Thereafter, she resumed her art career as a teacher of portraiture. In 1859 she followed her son and two daughters to Texas and opened her studio in San Antonio in 1860. During the Civil War she moved to Piedras Negras, Mexico, to live with her son. She received few commissions for work her first years in North America. After 1865, however, she found many opportunities—painting and teaching art classes in one of her studios. She also taught in the local German-English school. Most of her paintings are formal portraits, including those of her family and friends, although she also rendered landscapes in pencil. Particularly interesting were her sympathetic pencil and oil portraits of children, including her own grandchildren, pictured in mid-nineteenth century costume, in the Biedermeier manner. Louise Wueste periodically left San Antonio after the mid-1860s to live elsewhere in Texas with her children, including her son, Daniel, an Eagle Pass merchant. Her later work reflected an interest in the people and landscapes along the Rio Grande. Wueste died on September 25, 1874, in Eagle Pass and was buried in a local military cemetery. Her paintings were sometimes signed with her monogram, "LW," and none was dated. Her work, possibly numbering in the hundreds, has never been cataloged. Most of it is held by descendants and private collectors. The largest public collection of her output is owned by the Witte Museum.

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Pauline A. Pinckney, Painting in Texas: The Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967).
  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Visual Arts
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Women

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

James Patrick McGuire, “Wueste, Louise Heuser,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wueste-louise-heuser.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995

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