Tuesday, October 16, 2012

William Momberger (1829-1895)

William Momberger was born on June 7, 1829, in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. He studied painting and lithography in his homeland before emigrating to the United States in 1848, a year of revolution in Europe. Settling in New York City, he set up a lithography firm, Coughey and Momberger, as early as 1852. His partner was John Coughey (or Caughey), a wood engraver.

Throughout the 1850s and '60s, Momberger created lithographs and engravings for books, newspapers, banknotes, and other documents. He illustrated Duyckinck's Cyclopedia of American Literature (1856) and the Gallery of American Landscape Artists. He may have been in Indiana as early as 1855 when his illustrations appeared in the book New Purchase, or Early Years in the Far West by Robert Carlton (New Albany, Indiana: Nunemacher, 1855). Momberger also created images from the Civil War and traveled in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Extant lithographs place him in Fort Wayne, Evansville, and Vincennes, Indiana.

Momberger lived in Morrisania, New York, where he was counted in the 1860 census as an artist and in the 1870 census as a portrait painter. He was still active as late as 1888 and died on April 9, 1895. Momberger was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. (Thanks to an anonymous reader for providing that information.) The obituary of a "retired illustrator" named William H. Momberger of Newark, New Jersey, appeared in the New York Times on December 12, 1933. That William Momberger may very well have been the son of the artist in question here, as he was born in New York in about 1851. 

A descendant of William Momberger has collected images and compiled a bibliography on the artist's works. You can see them at this website:

You can find more information on William Momberger in:
  • Appleton's Cyclop√¶dia of American Biography, Vol. 4, edited by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske
  • Pioneer Painters of Indiana by Wilbur D. Peat (1954)
  • The New-York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America, edited by George C. Groce and David H. Wallace (1957)

Beldad y la Bestia, illustrated by William Momberger (New York: D. Appleton Co, 1864), from the collection of the New-York Historical Society.
Lithographs of Evansville (top) and near Fort Wayne (bottom), made by William Momberger and dating from the 1860s.
The landing of troops on Roanoke Island, 1862, a Civil War lithograph by Momberger.  

A poor reproduction of Momberger's depiction of the historic duel between the Merrimack and the Monitor of March 8 and 9, 1862 (from the New York Times). That battle took place 150 years ago this year. Although the two ships fought to a standstill, both were lost before the year was out, the Merrimack--the C.S.S. Virginia--on May 11, and the Monitor on December 31.

Thanks to Anonymous for providing the date of death and the place of burial for William Momberger.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley


  1. William P. Momberger died April 9, 1895 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

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