Gustav Kruell Biography

Gustav Kruell




Printmaker, illustrator, and portraitist Gustav Kruell was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, on October 31, 1843. He took private engraving lessons from Robert Francois Brendamour and in 1873 he immigrated to the United States ahead of his wife and family with the intent of starting a career as a graphic artist. He settled in New York City where he found work as an illustrator for a variety of publications, and was able to bring his family to the U.S. the following year. They then relocated to Orange, New Jersey.

In addition to his professional commercial career, Kruell continued to create engravings of his own with a focus on portraits of notable Americans, including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and others. His works soon gained a following and in 1890 he held his first exhibition of engraved portraits at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. This kicked off a successful exhibitioning career with participation in the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago); the 1889 Paris Exhibition; the 1901 Pan-American Exposition (Buffalo), where he won a silver medal; and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, where he won a gold medal. His work was included posthumously in the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco. In 1895 he exhibited over 200 works at the Keppel Gallery in New York, and in 1881, he founded the American Wood Engravers' Society. 

The Kruell family eventually relocated to San Luis Obispo, where Gustav Kruell died in 1907. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Briitsh Museum; the National Gallery of Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the Worcester Art Museum, among others.