"b. Paris, France, 1830. Studied art in his native city under Cogniet, and Abel du Pujol. Came to America in 1850, and opened a studio in New York. Elected a member of the National Academy in 1870. At present living abroad. " Scenes in the life of Daniel Boone. Mr. Nehlig hoped to obtain a commission from the state to paint a series of historical pictures for the capitol, at Frankfort, and it was a greater misfortune to the state than to himself that this commission was not given. The Design which he exhibited to the legislature was purChased by Mr. Menefee. It is in panels, with one large central painting and five side pieces, with some of the spaces decorated with monochrome drawings of indian trophies. The artist had immersed himself in the study of the early days of Kentucky, and in this work reproduced not only the spirit of the times, but was historically accurate in every costume and detail. The central painting represents Daniel Boone and his companions viewing the outspread plains of Kentucky, fertile and full of promise, below them, from a table- rock of one of the Alleghanies. The group of men is at rest yet full of animation. They are sturdy forms; boldness and vigor speak from every lineament. The smaller side-pieces are exquisite, and all represent historical incidents. In one, Daniel Boone encounters two indians. His son lies at his feet, stricken down in the conflict: the indian, who was in the act of rushing upon them, is struck down by Boone, who has drawn his knife for a nearer combat. The situation is very dramatic. The dark, tangled woods, with somber coloring, are in fine tone and keeping with the moment, and the attitude of the falling indian is drawn with such power that his expiring yell almost startles the imagination. Below this is an indian village fired by the whites. It would seem almost impossible for an artist, foreign to Kentucky, to so wonderfully reproduce an Indian summer and such an atmosphere as envelopes the little picture. This scene is also dramatic but more so by way of suggestion. The stealth of the approaching enemy, the terror of the flying Indians, and the beautiful calm, which always seems to settle down like an eternal peace in Indian summer, are put on canvas with a poet's sense of beauty and an artist's mastery of execution. The companion piece of this is an Indian attack on a block-house. The local coloring and historical accuracy of this must also be commended. The trees are deadened about the clearing, to afford no unperceived means of approach by the enemy, and the dry brush and bare limbs of the trees are in keeping with the idea of the scene, as well as a truthful incident of such places of defense. This little scene was painted over a great many times by the artist. He was delighted when the purChaser expressed his admiration of the sketch of the attack on the block-house, and exclaimed, in his impulsive French way: 'you enchant me. There are three other block-houses under that one.' below the largest picture (the first view of Kentucky, is the incident of the capture by Indians of three children. The canoe in which they are is drawn drawn to the shore by a stalwart Indian. The smallest give signals with a white cloth to the opposite shore, to attract the attention of friends. The minutest descriptions of these six small pictures on one canvas could not convey a proper conception of their great merit. Nehlig is a poet. He has reproduced the romance of the early days of Kentucky as effectually as it may be done on canvas. Will T. Price, in The Age, April 5, 1870." [P. 77-78.] Highest, purest and most captivating type of the American woman. " with more genius than Canova, he is actually struggling along, while the great Italian had profitable commissions showered upon him. . . . Mr. Hart has been too much of a poet-artist to delve for money. Perfection and fame are the lights before his eyes, and although by comparison with other artists of merit he has apparently accomplished little, yet in this last work alone he has wrought a poem that will live like the Iliad.'" [P. 92-94; excerpted from a three-page essay on the artist and his works.]
Illustrated Catalogue of Works of Art in the Art Building of the Southern Exposition at Louisville, Ky. August 16 - October 25, 1884. Prepared by Charles M. Kurtz, Director of the Art Department. Editor of National Academy Notes and the Art Union Magazine. Published for the Art Committee by John P. Morton and Company.
Artist professional affiliation: National Academician.