Artworks by Friedrich Richard Petri
A German painter's relationship with neighboring American Indians in Texas
Influenced by German Romanticism, artist Richard Petri painted an idealized version of the American Indian life he saw in the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s.
Petri’s art education in Germany was deeply impacted by European Romanticism, which included the opinion that Native Americans were a vanishing race doomed by white encroachment. European intellectuals, by whom Petri was educated, saw Native Americans as people who lived in harmony with nature and the land — a stark contrast to the urbanization of the Industrial Revolution happening in Europe. Once in Texas, the group briefly rented a home in the German settlement of New Braunfels before settling on a 320-acre farm in the Pedernales River Valley, five miles south of Fredericksburg. In 1852, Petri signed a petition urging the removal of American Indians from Texas. Despite this action, family lore and the body of Petri’s work show that he had a special relationship with the indigenous groups living near Fredericksburg.
Petri’s career as an artist was cut tragically short when he accidentally drowned in the Pedernales River in 1857. He left behind a full body of work that contributed significantly to the visual landscape of pioneer life in Texas.
Courtesy Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
Time Period: 1845 - 1861
This artifact is not on view.