Sharp studied in Europe off and on over much of the 1880s. His second stay during that decade included about a year and a half in Munich between 1885 and 1886. In Germany he was fortunate to come under the tutelage of the famous masters Nicholas Gyzis and Wilhelm Liebl at the Royal Academy. In this watercolor, the structures outside his studio window are the roofs of Munich, and the young artist, in a moment of repose, gazes out over the city.
This was not Sharp’s first studio. He was 25 years of age when he painted this interior view, and he had enjoyed other studios in his hometown of Cincinnati earlier. It was in Germany, however, that he began to seriously gather around him a set of objets trouvés from the area that would help express his self-perceived degree of personal refinement and taste as a man of the world. Except for the sketches pinned to the wall, there is little about the scene that would suggest this as a picture of his artistic work space. There is no easel, no splattered paint on the floor, and no smock tossed on the table. This is rather a space that suggests a sense of cosmopolitan ambiance, a testament to learning, given the books on the table, and of international, cultural absorption, given the accumulated artifacts scattered around the room and hanging from the ceiling.
When Sharp returned to Cincinnati in the fall of 1886, he brought many of his collected treasures with him to decorate his hometown studio. A newspaper article that appeared in Cincinnati’s Commercial Gazette, after his return to the states, discussed the newly enhanced setting. (related image 701a) Those who took the time to visit Sharp’s new studio at 30 West Fourth Street in Cincinnati’s Ogden Building, would, according to the writer, experience a true wonder. The collected objets d’art, or what was referred to as sophisticated bric-a-brac, created “a very interesting place of rendezvous for those who have an intensified hankering after the beautiful in art and the genuine in curios.” The German silver ceiling lamp, which Sharp had pictured in his Munich studio, was described by the paper as “a treasure trove picked up by Mr. Sharp in an old junk shop in Munich.” (Cincinnati Gazette, 1886) That and the chair he is seated on in the Munich painting became central motifs in the new studio. (related image 701b)
Peter H. Hassrick