Herman Haag: Mormon Artist
Herman Hugo Haag was an artist and one of the five artists who were set apart as art missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were sent to study in Paris. John Hafen, Lorus Pratt, and John Fairbanks were sent first with Edwin Evans and Haag following later. They studied at the Academie Julian, and despite their frugal living arrangements and competition in a crowded art academy, the five distinguished themselves. French Impressionism and its emphasis on landscapes and the effects of painting en plein air in natural light influenced the group. The Church funded their studies so that they could refine their skills and, upon their return, paint temple murals.
Haag was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on October 15, 1871. At the age of eleven his mother sent him to Utah with some friends to live with his two brothers who were already there. His mother immigrated soon after. Although he was a strong, robust boy in his childhood, he suffered an illness at the age of twelve that continued to affect him the rest of his life. He began drawing while he was confined to bed. With no model to draw from, he propped up a mirror in front of himself and drew his own likeness. His first portrait was of his mother who died a short time afterward.
He showed great talent, and beginning in 1891, he was able to study for two years in Paris. At age nineteen, he was the youngest art missionary. While in Europe, he visited art galleries and his old home in Germany. Upon his return to Utah, he assisted with the murals in the Salt Lake Temple and taught at the University of Utah. As a result of his poor health, he died on October 18, 1895, at the age of twenty-four.