Monday, October 11, 2010

Max Francis Klepper (1861-1907)

Max Francis Klepper was born in Zeitz, Germany, on March 1, 1861, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1876. Klepper lived in Logansport, Indiana, between about 1876 and 1879. He studied under Robert Swain, an artist about whom little is known, and was apprenticed to a lithography firm in Chicago. In 1877, at the age of sixteen, Klepper advertised himself as an artist in the Logansport city directory. He exhibited at the first major art show in his hometown and specialized in landscapes as a young man. In 1880 his ambition to be an illustrator carried him away to New York.

Klepper attended the Art Students League in New York and the Royal Academy in Munich from 1887 to 1889. As an art student he wandered over the Rhine country and the Tyrol to paint and study scenery. He also took a course at the Munich Veterinary College, an experience that helped him in his artist’s handling of horses and other animals. Back in the United States, Klepper exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1891 and contributed illustrations to The Century, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Monthly, Harper’s Weekly, Outing, Scribner’s and other magazines over the next decade and more. Animals--horses in particular--were his specialty, an essential skill for an illustrator of scenes of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the Boer War. Klepper also illustrated several books during the early 1900s, including Lady Lee and Other Animal Stories by Hermon Lee Ensign (1901), The War in South Africa by Capt. A.T. Mahan (1901), On the We-a Trail: A Story of the Great Wilderness by Hoosier novelist Caroline Brown (aka Caroline Krout) (1903), and The Baseball Boys of Lakeport by Edward Stratemeyer (1908).

Klepper died at home in Brooklyn, New York, on May 5, 1907. He was just forty-six years old.


Any picture you find now created by Max F. Klepper is almost sure to include horses, his specialty from the 1890s onward. This illustration is from an unknown magazine from about 1900-1905.

Klepper's skill with horses and the sporting life earned him entry into high society, even if it was just as an observer. Top: "In the Riding School" from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1891, a wood engraving. Bottom: "Tennis and Polo at Newport" from Harper's Weekly, ca. 1890s, a photogravure.


Text and captions copyright 2010 Terence E. Hanley

10 comments:

  1. Max Francis Klepper is my Great Great Grandfather on my mother's side. Her specialty is drawing horses also.

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  2. Tonya,

    Thanks for writing. Do you know anything more about Max Klepper? If so, please write to me at my email, info@hoosiercartoonists.com. I'd like to hear about your mother's artwork, too, if you don't mind sharing.

    TH

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  3. I am doing a research paper on Klepper, and am having some trouble finding information on him. Can you tell me what your sources for this article were? Do you have any additional information on Klepper? Thanks!

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  4. I really do not know much about him. But my mother,neice and myself also share in the special talent of drawing horses and everything about animals.If anyone can find any known relatives that I don't know about please contact me.
    Tonya

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  5. Tonya,
    My husband is also related. I believe his grandmother is Max's granddaughter or great-granddaughter. I am trying to piece together the family tree. Write me at mfaure47@gmail.com

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  6. You can find a detailed obituary of Max Klepper on the New York Times website, from 1907, by googling. It comes up in .pdf format, so you need Adobe Reader to view it. I'm selling a Max Klepper print on eBay at present and enjoyed reading about his background. It's a print from Harper's Weekly, Oct 5, 1895, titled "Polo Incident." Many thanks to Indiana Illustrators for the concise bio posted here!

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  7. P.S. Someone should put Max Klepper into Wikipedia. He certainly deserves a bio there.

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  8. I have a book called Lady Lee and Other Animal Stories from 1902 with 7 drawings by Max Klepper. Title page reads "Illustrated in Photo gravure from Original Drawings by MAX F KLEPPER, etc...

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  9. He's my great-great-great Grandfather! (:

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  10. I have an original Klepper I would like to sell if anyone is interested it is on ebay. It is a girl with a kitten.

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