Oil on canvas, 17.75 x 27.5 inches/Signed lower right
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Sommer was a German artist living in Munich before immigrating to the United States – destination, probably New York City, although the year is unknown. What is known that Sommer exhibited at the National Academy of Design from 1862 to 1866. The December 28, 1864 Philadelphia Press, in their Arts and Literature in New York, section stated that "a large canvas by Otto Sommer, representing a spirited deer scene, will be worthy of your attention, should it reach Philadelphia." Sommer exhibited with well-known artists Balling A. Chappel, Leutze, Nehleg, Culverhouse, Berger W. Hart, S.S. Gerry, Johann Hermann Carmeincke, Seavey and Stroeghel at Bunyon Hall, Union Square in September, 1867. That he visited Texas around this time is documented by a 1867 exhibition at the Chicago Opera House Art Gallery, where two of his, Westward Ho , "a stirring scene in Texas, and a small wood piece with deer." 1868 found him in Winona, Minnesota, located on the upper reaches of the Mississippi River, where he painted the river, its islands, bluffs and just a glimpse of city itself. Sommer was only there a short while; however, the painting was exhibited at the bookstore of McNie & Bros. Sommer was in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1860s, but returned east after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1874 he exhibited at "Mr. Schenk’s Gallery" in New York City (February 1874), along with H.C. Bispham, John Faulkner, Milton Leveridge, Walter Blackman, C.P. Ream, Redmond Fay, Benjamin Champney, William Hart and Ernest Baker. Sommer was listed in the London American Register (December 1874) as one of the Americans in Europe (Munich, Germany). In 1875 he exhibited at the Haseltine Galleries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Landscapes with cows in a mountain scene were a common theme, as were scenes of Lake George, NY, Conway, NH and the Hudson River. Sommer also painted some Civil War scenes, although they were not battle scenes or depictions of the misery of war, but activities that supported the war effort such as “Beef for the Troops” and “Union Drover”. His landscapes are reminiscent of the Hudson River School and he likely knew at least some of the Hudson River artists, maybe Church or Bierstadt – in fact he painted a series of paintings after Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life – Old Age and Voyage of Life – Youth, although Sommer would have likely arrived in the United States after Cole’s death in 1848.