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Carl Ahrens

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Carl Ahrens
Canadian, (1862–1936)
Born in Winfield, ON (near Elora) and raised in Berlin, ON (now Kitchener), Carl Ahrens lived in Waterloo County for over 30 years. His favourite home was “Big Trees” in Galt, ON (now Cambridge). The local landscapes were among his most frequent inspirations and filled his paintings. His grandfather, Carl H. Ahrens, arrived in Berlin (Kitchener) in 1835 where he opened the city’s first foundry, and met and married Elizabeth Gaukel. The artist’s uncle, Richard Roschman, co-founded the Roschman and Brother Button Company in Waterloo, ON (the building is the current home of the community arts centre known as Button Factory Arts). Ahrens’ job dying buttons at the factory is thought to have instructed the sense of colour, one of the hallmarks of his paintings. He achieved international recognition rapidly:

“On a cool autumn Saturday in October 1911, over 4,000 people crowded into the Toronto Reference Library for an exhibit by landscape painter Carl Ahrens (1862-1936). A Dutch art dealer offered to buy the collection of 31 paintings for $100,000 but the owner, General Malcolm S. Mercer refused. The Belgian Art Commissioner offered to host the collection in Belgium, the first such offer made to a North American artist. A leading art critic from Europe called Ahrens “the best tree painter who ever lived.” (See Bullock, Kim. “Rediscovering Carl Ahrens: The Painter”. Waterloo Historical Society vol 94 (2006), p58.)

“The Pool”, currently held in the Permanent Collection of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, was a part of that exhibition.

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