Johnnes Adam Simon Oertel (1823-1909) was born in Bavaria and came to the United States in 1848. His artistic achievements include art completed for many churches, a widely reproduced work titled “Rock of Ages,” and a piece on the ceiling of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. He considered a series of canvas paintings called “Redemption” to be his greatest achievement. He served as a rector for the episcopal church in Lenoir and Morganton, N.C., Glen Cove, N.Y., and Emmorton, Md.
The collection consists of his diary, sketchbooks, newspaper clippings, and letters. Topics covered in his diary reveal how difficult he found providing for his family. However, he always maintained his faith in God, and firmly believed in his calling to be a religious artist. He lamented art-buyers’ preference for foreign over American art, and portraits and landscapes over religious artwork.
The image above appears in his sketchbook, which may be found in his papers at the Southern Historical Collection. If you’d like to learn more about Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, you can view the finding aid for this collection, or come visit us at Wilson Library!