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Walking to Munich!

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

McKnight Kauffer Musings

To Europe 1913...

Walking to Munich

This is the third post relating to McKnight Kauffer’s study trip to Europe – the early months. The information is based on contemporary newspaper articles and letters to his parents (including a diary page). A short post, but new information not revealed elsewhere.

Edward Leland Kauffer (this is the name he used in his passport application) and Samuel Linder set off for Europe sailing from New York on 23 April 1913. Kauffer met portrait artist Samuel Linder during his time in Chicago. Linder also had a role as an assistant art instructor at the Hull House, a settlement house, in Chicago. The refuge was set up by activist and social worker Jane Addams to help European immigrants by offering them social, educational and artistic programmes of study. A short piece on Linder in a Chicago newspaper dated 24 April 1913 said that, given a $1000 bursary to continue his studies in Europe, he had sailed for on the SS Oceania the previous day (the Oceania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat in 1917).

According to Kauffer they travelled first class with 43 other passengers – “we all lived like one big family”. The ship was small so it tended to roll a great deal – but when he recovered he enjoyed the Oceania’s meals, which he took to be a combination of Italian and Turkish cuisine. The voyage took 11 days arriving at Algiers on 4 May.

Kauffer was instantly enthralled by general bustle of Algiers. He and Linder could sit on the balcony of their hotel, the Grand Hotel des Étrangers, in the evening and take in all these sights and sounds. Kauffer observed stylish Parisian style women mingling with “great tall sheikhs and veiled Mohammedan women – just like an Arabian Nights story”.

From his diary

6 May 1913 Went to Jardin de Essai. Beautiful old palms long sunlit roads, much color. Then we walked up the hillsides past many interesting adobe huts, homes of Arabs. Sketched the bay of Algiers. The eucalyptus tree abounds everywhere and altogether there is quite a bit of California here.

We will be here until the next boat which comes May 12, and then go to Naples.

Venice – May / June 1913

In a letter to his parents he writes:

Here we are in Venice after a wonderful sail up the Adriatic coast, calm and beautiful. 2 days trip around Naples we landed in Trieste – stopped overnight

My first glimpse of Venice was if I might be dreaming. This is the place where Wagner and Robert Browning died, and the place that Whistler loved. We visited the academy, the school of art, and find that it doesn’t compare with one studio of the Chicago school.

Basing themselves in Venice for two months Kauffer and Linder worked at sketching early in the morning and in the evening, finding the daytime too hot. During his time in Venice he wrote to the art critic and good friend Porter Garnett in San Francisco saying he had made some 200 “notes” (sketches?). In his newspaper column (6 July 1913) Garnett wrote:

Those of you who knew that Mr Kauffer exhibited here will remember that they showed vision, imagination and an altogether delightful feeling for color. It is his possession of these qualities, combined with his earnestness and sincerity which seem to justify confidence in his future

Venice June 1913 Signed E. McKnight Kauffer – first use of “McKnight”? Perhaps he signed it at a later date
S. Giorgio Maggiore from Zattere
Pastel and water colour on a grey ‘Ingres’ paper.
he paint is applied flatly reflecting a ‘Californian style’ of painting. The decorative treatment of the water in the foreground is reminiscent of the style he later adopted for In Watford, his first Underground poster

In July they planned to go to Munich to join up with some “friends” – once in Munich Kauffer said that he intended to celebrate the 4th of July “without firecrackers”. Before he set of for Europe, he told his parents that he would walk to Munich. The intention was confirmed in a letter. “It is not far from here” he wrote! I think they probably did cover this part of their European study tour on foot – some 300 miles - as he later referred to visiting Switzerland, the Austrian Tyrol and the Bavarian mountains. Perhaps they caught trains or buses for part of the journey.

They both spent time in Munich and later, Paris. The outbreak of WW1 meant that Kauffer has to leave Paris immediately (I will talk about his time in Munich and Paris another time). Before he left Paris he exhibited paintings at a gallery on the rue Chateaubriand. Linder left Paris at the beginning of June 1914, not returning to Chicago, but New York instead and changing his name to Carl Bennett Linder. As I mentioned in a previous post he became a highly successful portrait artist.


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