Introduction

Nest Egg Auctions has its roots in the city of Meriden, Connecticut. Meriden was a regional center of manufacturing from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century, especially in the production of sterling silver, silver plate, and the decorative arts. These industries were magnets for artists, who would come to Meriden to find work in the design or applied art of these industries, and making fine art in their off-time or retirement. As a result, Meriden has a strong artistic history, with many regional artists who made paintings that show the often overlooked beauty of Central Connecticut.

Painting of Meriden's Hubbard Park by Frederick Matzow
Frederick Matzow, "Hubbard Park Landscape". Oil on Board. Ca. early 20th century.

Frederick Matzow

One of the most interesting artists to come to Meriden was Frederick Matzow (Norwegian / American, 1861 – 1938). Frederick Matzow, an immigrant from Trondheim, Norway, came to Meriden in 1913 and worked at the Handel Lamp Company, where he hand-painted landscapes onto lampshades. Matzow was a landscape painter, and extensively painted the surrounding countryside, most notably Hubbard Park. Matzow was largely self-taught, and other artists who knew him recognized his innate ability. His capturing of forest interiors and the flowing of water were quite unique, and has made Matzow continually popular in Meriden and the surrounding area.

Painting of Connecticut Hills by John Backstrom
John Backstrom, "Connecticut Hills". Oil on Board. Ca. mid 20th century.

John Backstrom

Matzow worked with a few artists, one of the best known locally was John Backstrom (1899 – 1983). Backstrom, like Matzow, specialized in landscape scenes, but also worked as an artist professionally: during the Great Depression, he painted public murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). As he and Matzow would often paint at the same time and in the same location (sitting on the same park bench), his works and Matzow’s are sometimes incredibly similar. The younger Backstrom certainly learned from the elder Matzow, and this served him as he continued his career as an artist.

Large watercolo painting of sheep by Gustave Reiman
Gustave Reiman, "Pastoral Landscape with Sheep". Watercolor on Paper. 1907.

Other Meriden Artists

Another artist of this period, Gustave Reiman (1867 – 1948), also worked as a decorator at Handel Lamp and painted landscape paintings. Reiman, though not as well-known as Matzow, was incredibly prolific and turned to a variety of subjects, from farmhouses and sheep to forest interiors and mountains. Other artists who worked at Handel and produced their own works of art include Albert Parlow, who painted landscapes as well as Gibson Girl-esque figures for Handel wares, and William Runge.

Landscape Painting by Albert Parlow
Albert Parlow, "Connecticut Landscape". Oil on board. Early 20th century.

Selling Meriden Artists at Nest Egg Auctions

Nest Egg Auctions is the premier location for the sale and identification of works by Meriden artists, especially Frederick Matzow. We have handled countless Matzow landscape oils, and we get among the highest prices for them. Our Connecticut clientele is especially interested in the works of artists like Matzow, Backstrom, and Reiman. If you have a work by one of these artists, or another painter from Meriden or central Connecticut, we would love to see it! Please send us a photo, and we would love to discuss your local masterpiece with you.

Landscape painting by Frederick Matzow
Frederick Matzow, "Woodland Landscape". Oil on Board. 1930.

Further Reading:

David and Agnes Baur, Frederick Matzow (1861 – 1938): Meriden’s Artist-in-Residence. Meriden, CT: David and Agnes Baur, 2006.