Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Oertel, Johannes Adam

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OERTEL, Johannes Adam, artist, b. in Fürth, near Nuremberg, Bavaria, 3 Nov., 1823. He studied art in Nuremberg and Munich, but devoted himself chiefly to engraving until 1848, when he came to the United States and taught for a time in Newark, N. J. In 1857 he removed to Madison, N. J., where he painted the “Lament of the Fallen Spirits” and “Redemption.” About this time he was invited to assist in preparing new decorations for the National capitol. In 1861 he transferred his studio to Westerly, R. I., where he painted “Father Time and his Family” and “The Final Harvest” (1862); “The Dispensation of the Promise and the Law,” containing 150 figures (1863); “Walk to Emmaus,” “The Walk to Gethsemane,” “Easter Morning,” “Magdalen at the Sepulchre,” “The Rock of Ages,” and others (1868). The last-named picture was reproduced by chromo-lithography, and sold extensively both in this country and in England. During the civil war Mr. Oertel accompanied the Army of Virginia under Gen. Burnside. His “Virginia Turnpike” and other landscapes were the fruit of his military experience. Besides his paintings he has produced several carved-wood altar-pieces, among them an elaborate altar and reredos for the Church of the Incarnation, Washington, D. C. While residing at Westerly he prepared himself for orders in the Protestant Episcopal church, and he was made deacon in 1865, and subsequently presbyter. He has since confined himself almost entirely to the domain of Christian art, and painted pictures that he presented to churches in Glen Cove, N. Y., New York city, Washington, D. C., North Carolina, and elsewhere. After having charge of two parishes in the latter state and spending a year in Florida, Mr. Oertel was invited to fill the chair of Christian art at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., which he now (1898) occupies.