Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Wertmüller, Adolph Ulric

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WERTMÜLLER, Adolph Ulric, artist, b. in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1751; d. near Marcus Hook, Pa., 5 Oct., 1811. He worked for some time in France, where he became a member of the academy in 1782, and in 1787 he was made court-painter in Sweden. In 1794 he came to the United States, remaining a year or two, and in 1797 he settled finally in this country. During his first visit he painted several portraits of Washington. Though the work of an excellent artist, they are hardly successful as portraits, for Wertmüller belonged to that ideal French school, which usually sacrificed truth to nature for elegance in execution. Elizabeth B. Johnston, in her “Original Portraits of Washington” (Boston, 1882), speaks of five portraits of Washington by Wertmüller, of which one, executed in 1797, was purchased by the U. S. government in 1878, and another is owned by the Historical society of Pennsylvania. Among his other portraits are those of Gustavus III. and his queen, and Gustavus IV. His “Marie Antoinette and her Children” (1785) is in the museum at Stockholm. He was noted especially for his vivid coloring, “Danae” being a good example of his powers in that respect. When this picture was first exhibited in the United States great indignation was expressed, for public taste and sentiment at that time were against the nude in art.