Temple Way by Albert Krehbiel

This work by Albert Krehbiel (1873 – 1945) depicting Temple Way near Saugatuck, Michigan, came in with a heavy dirt contamination from airborne sources. Numerous cotton tips dipped in chemical solvent removed this dull and languid dirt-filter, which is doubly troublesome for a snow scene. Krehbiel used a complex color technique in which he layered many coats of paint. Unfortunately, between these layers were chemical imbalances which resulted in de-lamination. The work also suffered from many scratches. A special adhesive brought congruity to the paint layers and the rib-like scratch marks, which were then amended with in-painting.

Albert Krehbiel came into his own as a painter relatively early in life: in his first year of study at the Art Institute of Chicago he advanced almost immediately to the Academic Life department, a process which usually takes a full year of study. By his fifth year he had earned 39 Honorable Mentions and an appointment as an instructor in the regular day and evening classes.

Shortly thereafter he was awarded an American Traveling Scholarship by the Institute, and in 1903 found himself in Paris, studying at the Academie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens, the last of the great historical painters. For his work there, he won four gold medals, the largest number ever given to an American. Perhaps even more important to him at the time was receiving the Prix de Rome, a substantial financial supplement to his $125 Art Institute scholarship.

His exposure to Impressionism was to shape his palette for the rest of his career. The Impressionist influence is plainly seen in his Michigan Avenue street scenes — which he dashed out to paint between teaching classes at the Art Institute, and in his treatment of the Santa Fe scenes, which he rendered in the considerably stronger colors demanded by the bright New Mexico skies.

But it is most apparent in his paintings of woods and river scenes along the shores of the Des Plaines River and the North Branch of the Chicago River, as well as the area around Saugatuck, Michigan, where he spent many summers teaching and painting. Characteristics of the Krehbiel landscapes are peace and solitude imparted by the subtle blending of pastel shades to depict the play of light and shadows among the trees and in the icy rivers.


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