Emile L. Herzinger (1838-1887)

Emile Louis Herzinger (1838-1887) was born in France in 1838. He arrived in the United States aboard the ship Othello on September 13, 1858, with his father, Louis, 48, and his mother, Virginia, 46.[1]  Two years later, he and his mother lived in St. Louis, where he worked as an artist.[2] He was also known as a photographer and a colorist of photographs. As an artist, he used a variety of mediums: charcoal, watercolors, gouache, pastels, colored crayons, and oil.[3]  When he registered for the Civil War draft in April 1864, he gave his occupation as mechanic. He paid a substitute to fight in his place. [4]

Also in 1864, at the Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair, Herzinger exhibited oil paintings of Governor Hamilton R. Gamble and a Sister of Charity. In 1867, at the St. Louis Fair, he and photographer John A. Scholten (1829-1886) won first prizes in miniatures on ivory, colored crayon drawings, and in photographs in oil, watercolors, and porcelain. Exhibiting alone at the 1869 St. Louis Fair, Herzinger led in the categories of historical painting and miniatures on ivory.[5]  During the 1870s, according to biographers, Herzinger fell into artistic oblivion in the 1870s. He died in 1887 and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

The Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, Missouri, owns the preponderance of Herzinger’s extant work, while the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio, own other examples.

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[1] United States Customs Department, New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957: Ship: Othello September 13, 1858; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm Roll: 187; List Number 865, Lines 1-3. Within public records, there is some confusion. His parents may have been named Isaac and Francine, and the family may have originally arrived in the United States in 1838. Due to the disparity in the names, his mother’s consistent use of “Virginia,” and the similarity of the names of Louis and Louis Emile (later Emile Louis) in father and son, I chose to use the names from the 1858 arrival and the ensuing censuses.

[2] United States Census Bureau, Eighth Census of the United States, “Household of Louis E. Herzinger,” Ninth Ward, St. Louis Missouri, June 25, 1860, NARA Roll: Roll: M653_655; page 323, lines 23-24.

[3] Peter E. Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn, Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide: A Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865 (Stanford University Press, 2005), 318.

[4]  Missouri Provost Marshal, Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); NARA), Records of the Provost Marshall, Record Group: 110, Vol. 3, page 199, line 47.

[5] Palmquist, op. cit.