Dawson Gallery


A popular genre painter of the late nineteenth century, Louis Charles Moeller became known as a specialist in cabinet-size paintings.  He won the National Academy of Design’s Hallgarten Prize in 1884, at age 29, for his small work entitled Puzzled (date and location unknown).


A native of New York, born in 1855, Moeller received his earliest training from his father, a portrait and decorative painter.  He went on to study at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, under Lemuel Wilmarth.  During six years, he worked with Frank Duveneck and Wilhelm von Diez, then returned to New York City in 1882.  He began to concentrate on cabinet-size paintings instead of the large scale of his earlier work.


Moeller’s compositions were characterized by attention to facial expressions and gestures by figures posed in stage-like interiors.  Accessory elements, such as framed pictures and arranged objects, precisely rendered, were typical.  His work of the 1880s, with pale and neutral colors on smooth surfaces, are a contrast to his rich, dark, heavily applied colors of the 1890s.


Two of Moeller’s more stirring works, The sculptor’s Studio (circa 1880) and The Old Armchair (date unknown, Oberlin College) are without people; they use objects as clues to their owners identities.  Often his accurately detailed small works were done on wood panels.


Called “one of the most dramatic painters of the day” by Quarterly Illustrator in 1894, Moeller gave up painting in later years because of illness.  He died in Weehawken, New Jersey in 1930.


Source: Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Louis Charles Moeller

American, 1855-1930

A Candy for Dolly