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Karl Gerhardt's obituary

SHREVEPORT TIMES, May 8, 1940, Pages 1,7

Karl Gerhardt, 87, Once Famous for Sculptures of Famous Persons

Karl Gerhardt, 87, of Blanchard, a sculptor and painter whose works are known internationally, died at 2:45 p.m. yesterday while en route to a Shreveport hospital after he had suffered a heart attack.

Gerhardt was an intimate friend of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and did one of the best known busts of Twain. He also did a death mask of General U. S. Grant and a bust of Henry Ward Beecher, whom he also knew well.

Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. today with the Rev. D. T. Brown, of the Blanchard Methodist church, officiating. Burial will be in the Blanchard cemetery.

Gerhardt was born at Boston, Mass., on Jan. 7, 1853. While working as a machinist at Chicopee, Mass., he showed considerable talent and later became a designer of machinery at Hartford, Conn.

It was then that he became interest in sculpture and was so successful that he later was sent to study at Paris, France, where his work was exhibited in the salon and won prizes.

His works included busts of Gen. U. S. Grant, Henry Ward Beecher, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) and statues of Nathan Hale, which is now in the Connecticut state capitol and Gen. Israel Putnam, which is a Brooklyn, Conn., and other Americans of note.

Gerhardt met Clemens in Paris while studying art and is mentioned in Clemens autobiography. After returning to the United States he lived for some time at Mount Vernon, New York, a suburb of New York.

Told of Mark Twain

Several years ago in a lecture before the Shreveport Art club he told of the indifference with which Clemens took posing for an artist.

"Mr. Clemens would lie down on a lounge," Gerhardt said, "with his face covered with a newspaper and would go to sleep. Of course under such circumstances it was impossible to proceed with the sitting."

Gerhardt added that later Clemens became more interested in the bust and became a more apt sitter.

Another of his works was a soldiers' monument at Utica, N.Y., for which he is reputed to have received $30,000. He also did a statue of General Warren which now stands at Gettysburg, Pa.

At the peak of his popularity he came to New Orleans in 1883, saying that he did so because of the climate. He taught art lessons in New Orleans for twelve years and did a statue for a banker named DeLonge [sic].

Came Here 10 Years Ago

His death mask of General Grant was made at the request of the government and was widely sold.

He is said to have come to Blanchard about 10 years ago. He kept a studio in the woods where he occasionally painted, but for the most part he was uncommunicative and would not speak of his past.

For a time he was employed as a mail carrier taking mail from the train to the post office.

He was a former member of the Shreveport Art club and his paintings have been exhibited at the State Exhibit building here.

Mr. Gerhardt is survived by one son, Lawrence Gerhardt, and one grandson, Lawrence Gerhardt, Jr., both of Blanchard.

Pallbearers at the funeral will be H. H. Faircloth, Roland McNeely, Clyde Beecham, Ed Solomon, Will Chance and Sam Bostick.

Karl Gerhardt biography

Index of Karl Gerhardt works

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