Dayrell Kortheurer: American Romantic Artist (1906-1995)

By Gayle B. Tate


The thing that makes and artist what he is, is elusive at times. Stories about how artists are the product of misunderstanding, rejection and trauma are the making of many a popular tale. If the truth was known however, most artists are not unlike any of the rest of us...they lead normal lives going about their business just as any other worker would. With the artist, Dayrell Kortheuer (pronounced DER-el Kor-TOY-yer), we find a life of quietness and peace of the kind we all seem to search for. The product of his life is found in his paintings and the tranquil dreamlike quality they have is a reflection of who he was.

Kortheuer was a true romantic. His paintings reveal a reflective and warm response to his life, a comfortable home and his long and satisfying marriage. He had a sure understanding of his calling in life as an artist. During his lifetime, he achieved a solid reputation as a painter of portraits. However, as much as he was known as a portrait painter, Kortheuer was also a very accomplished landscape artist. During his life, he had little interest in selling his landscapes and, with steady commissions for portrait work, he never pursued sales or marketing of these wonderful landscapes. His painting style grew out of his travels, education and experience that literally took him around the world.

Kortheuer was born in New York City in 1906 with an immediate passion for painting, which was developed at an early age. He studied the great art in the Museums and Galleries of London, Paris, Florence and Stockholm, just to name a few besides New York City. In New York, Kortheuer studied at the Art Student's League beginning in 1924 with Frank Dumond, George Bridgmen, Max Weber, John Carroll and others. He also studied at the National Academy of Design with Charles Hawthorne. He was invited on a scholarship to the Tiffany Foundation on Long Island in 1928 for a summer session. Because he showed such excellent skill, he was invited to extend his stay for another session, during which he met Katheryn Woods, who later became his wife.

Over the next sixty years, Dayrell and Katheryn Kortheuer traveled and worked together in a partnership that only added to the stability of his life and the romantic feel of his work. In 1937 Dayrell and Katheryn moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he remained until his death in 1995. Katheryn, also an artist, set aside much of her own aspirations for a career as a painter, to teach private instruction at the Mint Museum. That would free Dayrell to pursue his artistic career in portraits and provide the time to work on his landscapes.

As much as we like to read stories of trauma of madmen like Van Gogh or the hardships of the likes of Cezanne or Lautrec, the reality of an excellent life of peace and quietude is what it takes to author the works we see here by the hand of Dayrell Kortheuer. The style of the work is soft and dreamlike, like the music he so much enjoyed listening to while he painted...the syphonies of Brahms, Beethoven and Bach. His favorite, Beethoven's Patoral Symphony, set the tone for his colors, which are harmonious and his strokes sure. Many of us who dream of such a secure life would do well to learn that such a life is possible, if we only pursue it.

The following is a brief listing of Kortheuer's Biography:

Author of the book (unpublished): "The Portrait in Art" Author of articles for the magazine, "Art Life", on Rembrandt and Velasquez

Member of the Charlotte Writers Club; Taught at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC and Queens College, Charlotte, NC




For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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