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Portrait of McKnight Kauffer: a rare discovery

A message came pinging in to my email inbox recently with a revelation regarding McKnight Kauffer – a rare discovery that I did not discover first!

Methodical, organised, and painstaking research can reveal all manner of new findings, but it takes serendipity to chance upon the complete unknown. In the email, Doug Clouse, New York based graphic designer and design historian, wrote:

Attached is an image of the painting, which I saw [at the New Mexico Museum of Art] by chance during a visit to Santa Fe. I believe it is Kauffer. The 1915 citizenship photo on your blog [McKnight Kauffer Travels Abroad] shows Kauffer looking very much like the painting and wearing the same clothes. Also, your mention of Kauffer’s diary places him in Munich at the same time as the artist, Donald Beauregard…Kauffer is holding a Tyrolean hat, suggesting his walk, or partial walk, from Venice to Munich.”

It absolutely is a portrait of Kauffer, at a time he was calling himself Edward Leland Kauffer. Both Doug and myself are absolutely sure the timing of the portrait fits in with the short period that Kauffer was in Munich (July – September 1913), and Donald Beauregard (also July – September 1913). The photograph Doug referred to was one Kauffer used when he applied for a certificate of registration of American citizens in 1915 after leaving Paris at short notice at the outset of WW1. It is interesting to note how similar the photographic portrait is to Beauregard’s painting – the same shirt collar, tie, waistcoat and jacket. And that wonderful “mop of red-brown hair, carefully brushed” as described by Kauffer’s good friend Ashley Havinden in the foreword to McKnight Kauffer’s memorial exhibition catalogue of 1955.

Joseph E McKnight

In my Blog post McKnight Kauffer Travels Abroad I relate the story of how he travelled to Europe, aided by the financial support of Joseph E McKnight, professor of elementary education at the University of Utah (I have been carrying out a little more research on McKnight – I will post soon), accompanied by Samuel Linder, an artist acquaintance he had met in Chicago. It was probably Linder’s connection with the Art Academy in Munich that convinced Kauffer Munich was a good starting point, before going to Paris, his original intention.

Louis Grell, Self portrait, c. 1916

Hans von Bartels (teacher at the Academy) Akademie der Bildenden Künste München

At the turn of the twentieth century American artists were attracted to study in Paris, either at the Académie Julian or the Académie Moderne, but many preferred Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der Bildenden Künste München). Louis Grell (1887 – 1960) was one of many American artists who attended the Munich Academy both as a student, and, briefly as a professor. In 1912 Louis Grell and a number of fellow American artists set up an American Artists‘ Club with the aim of assisting American art students in Munich. Many of the artists who formed the committee had affiliations with the Art Institute, Chicago. The Club’s secretary, Ernest Martin Hennings (1886 – 1956), for example, had been a student at Chicago's Art Institute.

American Artists Club, Munich, 1912

Richard Fayerweather Babcock (1887 - 1954), Victor Higgins (1884 - 1949), Walter Ufer (1876 - 1936), Eugene Savage (1883 - 1978),

In January 1914 ‘Bennet S. Linder’ is listed as the Vice-President of the Club. This is Kauffer’s friend, Samuel Linder – changing his name to ‘Bennet S’. On Linder’s return to America in May 1914 he is still listed as Samuel Linder on the ship’s passenger list, but on establishing himself as a successful portrait artist, he became Carl Bennett Linder.

Donald Nelson Beauregard, circa 1906

I am indebted to Doug Clouse for introducing me to the work of Donald Beauregard – and especially to the Kauffer portrait. Born in Fillmore, Utah, in 1884, Donald Nelson Beauregard soon became renowned for numerous prodigious talents, including winning awards as an orator, but it was his drawing skills that led him to concentrate on becoming an artist. Enrolling onto classes at the University of Utah under the tutelage of landscape painter Edwin Evans (1860 – 1946), he was encouraged to continue his studies at the Académie Julian in Paris, a popular Parisian academy for American artists. He soon impressed his tutors, winning prizes for his technical ability and historical studies. Running out of finances he returned to Utah but was sponsored by Frank Springer, a wealthy lawyer and art patron, to travel and study in Europe. It was during this period, in July 1913, he visited Munich, possibly drawn there by the reputation of the Art Academy amongst American artists.

Frank Springer, circa 1905, Lawyer and art patron

Member of the Archaeological Association of America, and a patron of the School of American Archeology in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

GT's suggested title:

Donald Nelson Beauregard, Portrait of Edward Leland Kauffer / Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1913

The exhibition Doug Clouse referred to, An American in Paris: Donald Beauregard, has just closed at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. The Beauregard portrait is titled Portrait of an Artist, and dated circa 1912.

Beauregard obviously met Kauffer, and might have become acquainted with Linder. I do not know how the arrangements for the Kauffer’s portrait were made, but it is my view that it was painted in Beauregard’s temporary studio, using a photograph similar to the one Kauffer used on the certificate of registration of American citizens in October 1915. Beauregard may have intended the background of the hillside village to represent a Bavarian scene or the Austrian Tyrol, but it looks more like a representation of a French landscape, painted in an Impressionist style. At the time of this painting Beauregard was desperately ill, visiting a sanatorium in Switzerland, later returning to his parents ranch in Fillmore, Utah, where he died of cancer in May 1914 at the age of 29.

Beauregard’s paternal Danish grandparents immigrated to America in 1862, his father, Nelson Jacob Beauregard, was aged 4 years old at the time. Nelson’s father’s Danish name was Christen Peter Borregard, but took the name Christian Peter Beauregard on entry to America. The journey Donald Beauregard’s grandparents took travelling from their home in Denmark was arduous. Leaving Hamburg on 16 April 1862 aboard the square-rigged sailing ship Franklin, along with over 400 Mormons from Denmark, many of the children passengers fell ill catching and spreading measles. More than 40 children died during the voyage. Arriving at New York City at the end of May the Beauregards survived, and, indeed they added to their family when a daughter, Frances, was born on board ship in New York harbour. The family travelled by train to Wyoming where they joined the Mormon overland trail led by the experienced trail boss John Riggs Murdock, finally arriving at Salt Lake City at the end of September 1862. Christian Beauregard found his trade as a blacksmith was of great value making shoes for the oxen, repairing wagon wheels, and making cooking utensils.

Christian Peter Beauregard USS Franklin no.4 1864 (this replaced the ship the Beauregard family sailed on)


In 2007 a conference took place aimed at addressing how the Munich school and its protagonists became known in the United States. The papers presented were published in book form.

The book presented the proceedings of a conference 'American Artists in Munich. Artistic Migration and Cultural Exchange Processes, ' October 9-11, 2007, organized by the research group 'Forschungen zur Künstlerausbildung / Research on the Formation of Artists' in cooperation with the Terra Foundation for American Art and with the support of the Amerika Haus München


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