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NORMANN, CHARLES BERKELEY

NORMANN, CHARLES BERKELEY (1903–1985). Charles Berkeley Normann, painter, teacher, and director of the Texas School of Fine Arts for many years, was born Normann Zakaus Hansen Stigen in Sande, Norway, on December 16, 1903, the eldest of three children of Antone Thorwald Hansen and Agot Sofie (Braaten) Stigen. He changed his name in 1946, when he became an American citizen. As a young apprentice at a variety of establishments, Normann learned such skills as sewing and wood carving that he later used as an artist. He also studied at several fine and applied arts schools in Norway. At age nineteen he immigrated to the United States, initially to Minnesota. He subsequently traveled in Mexico before settling in Austin, Texas, in 1928. On August 18 of that year he married Fanny Velma Harris in Prairie Point, Burnet County; they had a son and a daughter.

Normann developed an interest in Texas history, which he expressed in such works as The Reading of the Texas Declaration of Independence (1936), a painting that he created jointly with his wife Fanny. His painting of Elisabet Ney sculpting a bust was exhibited at the Texas Centennial in 1936 and was subsequently presented to the state by Governor John B. Connally and Dewey Bradford. Normann continued his art training at the University of Texas, where he studied under Loren N. Mozley, Boyer Gonzales, Jr., Constance Forsyth,qqv and Everett Spruce, among others. He began teaching at the Texas School of Fine Arts in 1938 and later worked as the school's director for many years. From 1942 to 1945 he served in the United States Army as a cartographer for the Second Battalion Field Artillery Detail and received the Good Conduct Medal. After his discharge he became a United States citizen.

Normann is best known for his portraits of nine Texas heroes, which he began in 1954 under the direction of Dewey Bradford. In an effort to benefit students of Texas history, Bradford carried out extensive research to ensure that the subjects were represented accurately. Normann executed the portraits in the heavy linear style and florid colors typical of 1850s portraiture. He painted two sets, one of which was purchased by Summerfield G. Roberts. Roberts's set was initially exhibited at the Dallas Historical Society in 1961, then toured the state before Roberts placed the portraits on permanent display at the State Archives and Library building in Austin. In 1964 the portraits were published in the book Heroes of Texas: Featuring Oil Portraits from the Summerfield G. Roberts Collection. In addition to painting, Normann experimented with sculpting and wood carving. He embroidered, with his wife, a wall hanging entitled The Presidents (1936) that toured throughout the United States. During the year before his death he worked on a series of murals for Scholz Garten, a landmark beer establishment in Austin frequented by the artist. Normann died of a heart attack following cancer surgery on January 7, 1985, and was buried in Post Mountain Cemetery in Burnet. Although the Scholz murals were painted over shortly after his death, examples of his work can be found in the collections of the state Capitol and the Texas State Library,qqv both in Austin, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Star of the Republic Museum in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American-Statesman, October 2, 1970. Heroes of Texas: Featuring Oil Portraits from the Summerfield G. Roberts Collection (Waco: Texian Press, 1964). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Kendall Curlee

Citation

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

Kendall Curlee, "NORMANN, CHARLES BERKELEY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fno18), accessed April 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.