OTTO HENRY BACHER (1856 - 1909)
Painter and printmaker Otto Bacher was the first artist from Cleveland, Ohio to earn international fame in the art world. Born in Cleveland, he grew up in a neighborhood bordering on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River near the mouth of Lake Erie. A childhood pastime of sketching shipping activities in the busy port eventually led to a job painting inscriptions on commercial vessels. He became interested in art in his teens and studied with DeScott Evans and also learned drawing and fundamental perspective from Willis Seaver Adams and Sion Wanban.
He had his earliest exhibitions in Cleveland in 1876 and 1877 before leaving to became a student in Munich, Germany, where he studied in the late 1870s. From 1885-86, he studied at the Academie Julian in Paris with Boulanger and Lefebvre and also studied with Carolus-Duran and the American artist and teacher Frank Duveneck, who greatly admired his young student.
In 1876, he made his first etchings in Cleveland and later perfected this technique in Munich. Called one of “Duveneck's Boys” while in Munich, he later took up Duveneck’s invitation to come work and study -- first in Florence and later in Venice. He even brought his own printing press to Venice, where he shared it with James A. McNeil Whistler, another one of his teachers and a particular favorite of that artist. In 1907, Bacher wrote a book entitled "With Whistler in Venice."
Bacher returned to Cleveland in 1883 to become a teacher of art at the Cleveland Academy of Art and privately at a summer retreat he organized in Richfield, Ohio. He returned to Europe in 1885, staying only briefly due to poor finances before ultimately settling in New York City. He supported himself doing illustrations for Century Magazine and Scribner’s. In the 1890s, Bacher moved to Bronxville, NY to paint – his mature style revealing by that time a strong debt to Impressionism and especially Whistler. In the last decades of his life, Bacher exhibited in New York, London, Paris, St. Louis, and Philadelphia and Cleveland.