Josef Bergenthal (painter)

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Portrait of Josef Bergenthal (today in the Heinrich-Lübke-Haus )

Josef Bergenthal , also Joseph Bergenthal (* 1827 in Sundern , Westphalia province , † April 3, 1887 in Philadelphia ), was a German history and animal painter . He later emigrated to the United States , where he established himself as a portrait painter in Philadelphia .


Bergenthal was the son of the farm man Anton Bergenthal, called Schroer, from Schmallenberg , and his wife Maria, née Thüsing. He had five siblings. His mother died in 1834 and his father died eight years later. He first attended elementary school. It is not known which profession he initially learned and practiced afterwards. Bergenthal attracted attention early on because of his talent for drawing. In 1846, at the age of 18, he enrolled at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf . He first attended the drawing or “plaster class” and the “building class” with Rudolf Wiegmann . In 1847/1848 he took lessons from Karl Ferdinand Sohn in his composition and painting class and switched to Wilhelm von Schadow's painting and master class from 1850 to 1854 . At the same time, he heard the art history lectures given by Karl Josef Ignatz Mosler in 1853 , which took place in the Academy's copper engraving cabinet. After first deepening the subject of history painting, he turned to animal painting.

In 1849 he returned to Sundern. The main reason was probably that he wanted to evade political persecution by the Prussian police, since he had participated in the revolutionary movement in Düsseldorf in 1848/1849 . During his stay in Sundern he created three altarpieces for the St. Rochus Chapel in Sundern. They depict Rochus of Montpellier , Lucia of Syracuse and the Lamb of God . A number of portraits, including a self-portrait, were also made there. A number of his pictures were later painted over, so that only a few have survived. In 1863 he emigrated to the United States. He is said to have become director of the Philadelphia Academy of Art. Recent research has not been able to prove this.


Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Death certificate,
  2. Finding aid 212.01.04 Student lists of the Art Academy Düsseldorf , website in the portal ( Landesarchiv Nordrhein-Westfalen )