< back

Augustus Kollner


Augustus Kollner, born 1812 in Wurttemberg, Germany, was a distinguished 19th-century Philadelphia artist, etcher, engraver, and lithographer who started his career in the arts in Germany. Kollner worked as an engraver of book illustrations and animal portraiture in Stutgart by 1828 and in Paris during the 1830s before he immigrated to the United States and Washington, D.C. in 1839. In D.C., he worked at the Haas firm and lithographed advertisements, bank notes, and cityscape views until he relocated to Philadelphia in 1840. In his new city of residence, he established a studio as a portrait painter at Chestnut and Exchange streets with a residence at Noble above Franklin streets by 1844. Soon after his Philadelphia arrival, with his portrait studio proving unsuccessful, Kollner began his lithographic career in Philadelphia as the second chief artist of P. S. Duval and William Huddy's "U.S. Military Magazine" (1839-1842). By the mid 1840s, Kollner had married well-to-do Mary Sheek (ca. 1821-1899) and continued to work with Duval as well as the other premier establishments of Thomas Sinclair, Wagner & McGuigan, J. T. Bowen, and Frederick Kuhl. He also declared his intent to naturalize in 1844 and resided at 39 North Fourth Street over the book and drug store of his brother-in-law Charles Rademacher and his wife Catherine, whose murder was sadly discovered by Kollner in 1848. Between 1847 and 1848, Kollner became the artist for the lithographic firm Brechemin & Camp (Phoenix Block, Second and Dock streets) where he designed all genres of lithographs as well as advertised his picturesque views based on his annual summer sketching trips of the East Coast, including Canada. In addition, his views of American landmarks, including Philadelphia, began to be published for the seminal series "View of American Cities" issued 1848-1851 by Goupil, Vibert & Co. He also assumed a partnering role with John H. Camp following the retirement of Louis Brechemin. During this time Kollner had also relocated his residence to 239 Arch Street, where he lived ca. 1848-ca.1854. The new partnership lasted to ca. 1851 during which time the men issued a number of advertisements promoting their collaboration and Kollner began his work for the American Sunday School Union. He contributed a number of plates for their children's' moral lesson books such as "City Sights for Country Eyes" (1856). The lithographs created by pen and ink were atypical for American pictorial lithography and often included Kollner's expertise in the delineation of horses. The final year of their partnership yielded the noted multi-foot Dripp's map of New York City. After 1851, Kollner established his own firm at the Phoenix Block address, which he advertised with a catalog of specimens that included bank notes and examples of script. As a sole proprietor, he produced labels, advertisements, maps, and city and landscape views, including "East View of Philadelphia, Pennsylva. and part of Camden, New Jersey" (1856). During the 1850s Kollner also exhibited lithographic maps, book engravings, and colored drawings, respectively at the 1852, 1854, and 1856 Exhibition of American Manufacturers at the Franklin Institute. He and his family relocated to 616 North Seventh Street in 1855 as well. The residence, a part of the estate of his wife, remained Kollner's dwelling until his death. From 1870 to 1900, the household included a servant. By 1861, Kollner gave up his Dock Street establishment. However, he remained in the trade through the 1870s, including the lithography of a plan for a Philadelphia post office and court house, one of a series of about 50 portfolios of architectural plans issued 1855-1861 by the Construction Branch of the Treasury. That year, he also took a life class at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). During the Civil War, despite his age, he enlisted in the cavalry in 1863, and in 1865 and 1868, displayed drawings at PAFA and sold photographic reproductions of his etchings executed while a soldier. In the 1870s, Kollner produced his last major series of landscape lithographs and issued "Bits of Nature" in 1878, which focused on unusual landscapes in Fairmount Park in addition to a similar set depicting Maryland, Pennsylvania, Canada and Virginia. Previous series included "North American Foliage and Trees" in 1860. With his work in lithography waning in the 1870s - he never pursued chromolithography - Kollner focused more on his watercolors and oil painting, many of which show Bucks County and Philadelphia and are held in the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Other watercolor work included his series of the "Life of General Washington" advertised in the late 19th century. By the early 1880s, Kollner "retired" and described himself as a "gentleman," while he continued to make regular sketching trips around the Philadelphia area. Some of the etchings produced from these trips, often of Fairmount Park, were published in 1895 as "Life Scenes in the Park." Kollner married in 1843 and had several children with Mary of whom three survived beyond infancy: William (b. 1849); Clara (ca. 1845) who married businessman Edward Mears, Jr. in 1867; and Josephine (b. 1847) who remained unmarried and took care of her father in his later years until his death on December 10, 1906. From Philadelphia on Stone - Biographical Dictionary of Lithographers