Naylor Antiques

Early American Furnishings

American Still Life; Augustus Schmahl, 1859

Schmahl, Augustus (New York, 1823 – after 1870); Still Life with Fruit and Morning Glory, 1859; oil on canvas; signed and dated lower right; the canvas has been re-lined on original stretchers, tacking edges trimmed; background in-painting to approximately 1/2″ of earlier frame overlap at top and bottom margins; in a reproduction American style 23k gold leaf ogee frame by Guido of Boston; canvas dimensions: 30″ x 25″


Born in 1823, Augustus Schmahl immigrated to New York with his father Philip in 1844.  They were both listed in city directories as “gilders at 56 Chatham”, and by 1850 Augustus was listed as an “ornamental painter” in the 17th Ward.  Like many immigrant artists, Schmahl was primarily reliant on more commercial work such as sign and decorative painting.  Undoubtedly familiar with the achievements of earlier artists such as Johann Wilhelm Preyer (1803-1889) and contemporary fellow German-American Severin Roesen (1816-1872), Schmahl also attempted to find success as a still life artist.  While exhibiting a certain degree of naiveté, the honesty and individuality of the work results in a highly successful composition.