Out of the Vault: Pioneer Farm by Gerhard CF Miller

The Miller Art Museum (MAM) in Sturgeon Bay is home to the world’s largest public collection of artwork by Gerhard CF Miller, a locally beloved artist and the most influential artist Door County has known. 

Miller had a distinguished art career that gained him membership in the prestigious American Watercolor Society, for which he was appointed the regional representative in 1954; the National Audubon Society; the Wisconsin Watercolor Society; and Wisconsin Painters and Sculptors. He was also included in a 1966 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Miller was an energetic, generous, comic and endlessly creative individual whose spirit lives on today through the institution he gave to the Door County community in 1975.  

Among the museum’s most outstanding holdings are works by important figures closely connected to Miller: Roy M. Mason, James J. Ingwersen, Jessie Kalmbach Chase, Lester W. Bentley and, arguably, the most important figure in art of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. 

In addition to these collections, the museum also houses an extensive collection of Wisconsin art comprising more than 1,200 works from the 20th century to the present, with notable regional selections created by John Colt, Robert Von Neumann, James Cagle, Theodore Czebotar, Tom Uttech, Alicia Czechowski, Ruth Grotenrath and Schomer Lichtner.  

Pioneer Farm was the first piece inducted into the MAM Permanent Collection, and it reflects the artist’s interests in the medium of egg tempera and the subject area of rural Americana. Miller had many fascinations that became the subjects of his extensive body of work, including scenes from his far-reaching travels, boat docks and harbors, forest floors and the distinctive environment of the Door County peninsula. Rustic cabins with shadowy doorways that are characteristic of rural Door County — as impressively depicted in Pioneer Farm — were among the artist’s best-loved subjects.

Image: Courtesy of the Miller Art Museum


Gerhard CF Miller

American, 1903-2003

Pioneer Farm, 1973

Egg tempera

19.5 inches x 25.25 inches

Gift of Gerhard CF and Ruth Morton Miller


Collection of the Miller Art Museum