Felix Lieftuchter, Muralist, Biography

The Cathedral of the Madeleine is a Roman Catholic church in Salt Lake City, Utah

Murals by Felix Lieftuchter in The Cathedral of the Madeleine , Salt Lake City, Utah

Felix Bernard Lieftuchter was an artist who was born in Cincinnati in  on Oct. 29, 1882. He produced at least six major church decorations, worked with mosaics and engaged in portraiture.

Education

He studied with Frank  Duveneck and also at the Akademie der Bildende Kunst in Munich, Germany with Karl Von Marr  and/or Franz von Stuck.

Apparently when he was 15, he went back to Germany with his family and it was at that time or shortly after that he began school in Munich. During this period he apparently went to Italy and/or the Mediterranean to study church decorations. At some point he returned to the US.

Collaborators

He had a relationship with the  architect John T. Comes who  was author of the 1920 book “Catholic Art and Architecture”. This seems to be where he got many of his Church commissions. Comes appears to have the idea to not add any more vanishing points to the churches he designed.  So he didn’t want decorations that had tromp l’oiel elements. Leiftuchters mural work is very flat, byzantine in character. Whether this is why Lieftuchter generally used flat designs, or it is why Comes chose him is uncertain.

Felix Lieftuchter
Felix Lieftuchter

Assistants

I have two documented assistants. When he painted the murals in Pittsburgh’s St. Agnes’ church he was assisted by two female art students from Pittsburgh, both about 20 years old. Their names were Helen Hartz and Ann Murray.

Other Work

He was active with mosaics either as a designer or maker and has a documented association with the Ravenna Mosaic Company, St. Louis, MO.

Late in his life  he  lived in Mexico City, definitely between 1968 and 1972 (at age 91) where he engaged in portraiture. I’m just guessing but I wonder if that is where he died, as I can’t find any death dates .

Residences

He spent time or lived in Cincinnati, Chicago, Munich, Toledo, Pittsburgh, New York City, Miami and Mexico City.

Holy Rosary Cathedral, Toledo, Ohio

Holy Rosary Cathedral, Toledo, Ohio

Known Projects

Unless noted, I believe these are whole church decorations painted in Keim paint.

  • Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake city, Utah
  • St. Aloysius Church, Bowling Green, Ohio
  • Holy Rosary Cathedral,Toledo, Ohio
  • St. Joseph’s Cathedral – Wheeling, West Virginia
  • St. Agnes’ Church Apse in Cleveland, Ohio,  (destroyed By fire 1975)
  • St. Agnes Church, Carlow University, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • St. Columbia, Johnston, PA. (oil on canvas mural)
  • Possibly also the Toledo Central Catholic High School Chapel
  • Saint Vincent De Paul, Buffalo, NY.  (1924-1926) Mural and Mosaics
  • There may also be some over-painted murals in Rochester, NY in churches that were designed by Architect John Comes or his surviving partners, Thomas, Perry & McMullen.

 

St. Joseph's Cathedral Wheeling W. Virginia

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Wheeling W. Virginia

I spent an enormous amount of time trying to find information about Lieftuchter. And I feel with very limited success.  Biographical information is thin and there is a lot of uncertain information in this biography. Almost  everything reliable I found is here or linked to from here. At the bottom of this post are some newspaper clipping with interviews. Any one who can supply more information that can be added would be greatly appreciated.

St. Columba in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

St. Columba in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Internet Citations

Lieftuchter, Felix (Birth, 1883-10-29). A pupil of Frank Duveneck and Franz Von Stuck ( reference: American Art Annual, Volume 14, 1917, p.549)

Akademie  Der Bildenden Kunst, matriculated  1901.They credit Karl Von Marr as his teacher.

Here is a link to a 1920’s booklet printed by Cornell University and written by Anne O’Hare McCormick about St, Agnes Church in Cleveland , Ohio

In a letter dated April 7, 1972, in response to a query from Monsignor William H. Mc Dougall, (about the Cathedral of the Madeliene) then the cathedral’s pastor, about how the murals were painted, Lieftuchter wrote, “I painted five or six cathedrals in the United States. I was about 30 years old when I worked on the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. It was during World War I, I think about midway through the war. I stayed in Salt Lake City about a year and have never returned since. I think, as I recall, that I was paid about $7,000 for my work in the cathedral.”

Thanks to Kevin Hammer and his blog on Ohio regional liturgical art “CatholicToledo”  and the Carnegie Clipping Library in Pittsburgh who helped me find much of this information.

St. Aloysious Historic Picture

St. Aloysious , Bowling Green, Ohio, Historic Picture

St, Agnes, Cleveland, Ohio. Historic photo - 2

St, Agnes, Cleveland, Ohio. Historic photo – 2

Salt Lake City tribune interview with lieftuchter, 9/72

Salt Lake City tribune interview with Lieftuchter, 9/72

Lieftuchter Press Clippings: The Pittsburgh Press,January 6, 1931, and from The Pittsburgh

Lieftuchter Press Clippings: The Pittsburgh Press,January 6, 1931, and from The Pittsburgh
Sun-Telegraph, February 23, 1931.

If you are interested in seeing small, inexpensive paintings I have for sale or auction take a look at my small painting blog by clicking  here.

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