Henry Vianden (1814 - 1899)

Birth date: 1814 Death date: 1899  
Birth location: Bonn, Germany Death location: Milwaukee, WI  
Media: Painting , Painting / Oil Web site:
Comprehensive (file rating) - Major Wisconsin artist file that includes comprehensive documentation on artist's life that can be researched on site at MWA.


Henry Vianden
Born 1814 in Poppelsdorf, Germany
Died 1899 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Vianden became a goldsmith’s apprentice at age fourteen. He studied art at the Dusseldorf Academy. He entered the Royal Academy of Art in Munich in 1836, at age 22, and remained there until 1841.  Much later, Vianden would encourage promising Milwaukee artists to study in Munich. He continued his education in Antwerp, Belgium and then set off to become an artist in Cologne, Germany.  Although he was a painter, he also did lithography and copper plate etching.

Vianden came to America in 1849 and arrived in New York on the 4th of July.  Just a few weeks after his arrival, he set off for Wisconsin and eventually settled in Milwaukee.

It has been suggested that Vianden was probably one of  over 4000 intellectuals who left Germany and arrived in Wisconsin after the failed German Revolution of 1848. While continuing his painting in Milwaukee, Vianden also taught at Peter Engelmann’s German and English Academy and Mathilde Franziska Anneke’s German, French and English Academy, both of Milwaukee.  They, too, were political refugees who fled Europe after the 1848 attempt to overthrow the German monarchy in favor of a republic.  

Vianden was fondly called “the bear” by his friends and was known as the “oak tree” painter. Vianden said that trees were God’s noble creatures.  “When you paint a tree, you have a king sitting for you.”  He painted many of these highly-detailed trees, usually in the limited green and brown palette of the Dusseldorf style.

Vianden was the private tutor to many of Wisconsin’s leading artists such as Robert Schade, Robert Koehler, Frank Enders and Carl von Marr. On occasion, he would allow them to join him on painting excursions to the Wisconsin Dells and the Fox and Kickapoo Rivers. Vianden encouraged a respect for nature in his students.  He looked to his immediate surroundings for the picturesque and quaint.


Selected Group Exhibitions

1844 Cologne, Germany
1972  Antique Show, Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin
1975  Goethe Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, America Through the Eyes of German Immigrant Painters 
1977 St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri, Currents of Expansion:  Painting of the Midwest, 1820-1940 
1979  Twelmeyer Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Artists: 1850-1950 
1988  Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin, 100 Years of Wisconsin Art, 1888/1988:  A Centennial Celebration 
1989  West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts (now known as West Bend Art Museum), Wisconsin, German Academic Painters in Wisconsin 
1992 West Bend Gallery of Fine Arts (now known as West Bend Art Museum), Wisconsin, Early Wisconsin Ambiance:  Environments and Landscapes by Wisconsin's Early Artists 1880-1940
1996 Bergstrom-Mahler Museum, Neenah, Wisconsin, Collecting the Art of Wisconsin:  The Early Years
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