Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches / Signed and dated lower left
George Hetzel was born in the French province of Alsace, but emigrated with his family to America in 1828, settling in Allegheny City (Pittsburgh’s North Side). In his teens Hetzel began an apprenticeship with a painter with whom he helped decorate river boat cabins and murals for Pittsburgh saloons. Recognizing his artistic talent, George’s father sent him to the Dusseldorf Art Academy for formal training. After returning to Pittsburgh, Hetzel quickly established himself as one of Pittsburgh’s leading artists, obtaining commissions for portraits (for which he was much sought after), still lifes and landscapes. His early paintings reflect his Dusseldorf training--the use of chiaroscuro and the realism for which the Academy was known. A fishing trip for mountain trout exposed him to the beauty of the Paint Creek and Little Paint Creek areas, near Scalp Level, Pennsylvania.
The following summer he returned, bringing with him the faculty of the Pittsburgh School of Design to paint landscapes from nature. Every summer for many years, artists from Pittsburgh traveled to Scalp Level to study nature and paint. Although Hetzel is best known for his landscapes, he continued an interest in painting still lifes, in which watermelons were often featured. Hetzel exhibited at the National Academy in New York, the Pennsylvania Academy, and the Columbia Exposition in Chicago.