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Perham Wilhelm Nahl
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
San Francisco
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
San Francisco
A seventh-generation descendant of a German family of artists, painter, illustrator and printmaker Perham Wilhelm Nahl was a professor of art at the University of California, Berkeley, and an instructor at the California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC, now the California College of Art). Nahl’s father Hugo Wilhelm Arthur Nahl (1820-1889) and his half-brother Charles Christian Nahl (1818-1878) immigrated to America in 1849, sailed to California in 1851 and moved to San Francisco in 1852. The two brothers were both artists; Arthur worked as a commercial artist and painted portraits, landscapes and genre scenes. Perham Nahl was born in 1869 in San Francisco. He received artistic training from his father and his uncle, and attended the California School of Design at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art form 1899 until 1906. Appointed an Instructor in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, in January 1906, he resigned in May to study in Paris and at the Akdemie Heymann in Munich. After his return to the Bay area in 1907, he took a teaching position at CCAC, where he taught until his death. Nahl was appointed an instructor in the UC Berkeley art department in 1912, became an Assistant Professor, then an Associate Professor and in 1929 was appointed a full Professor of Art. Nahl created art as well as teaching the subject. He received a bronze medal at Seattle’s Alaska-Yukon Exposition in 1909. His design for the official poster for San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, ”The Thirteenth Labor of Hercules,” depicting Hercules as a colossus ripping open the Panama Canal’s Culebra Cut, was chosen from among forty entries. He exhibited thirteen prints at the PPIE and was awarded a silver medal. He exhibited etchings, monotypes and oil paintings in San Francisco and showed his work in Los Angeles and Philadelphia as well. Nahl traveled to Mexico in 1923-24, after which Mexican scenes appeared in his art. He had a particular interest in Japanese art, traveled to Japan and was appointed the curator of the Armes Collect of Japanese Art at UC Berkeley. Nahl was a member of the San Francisco Art Association, the Philadelphia Art Club and the California Society of Etchers, winning a prize at the Society’s 1926 exhibition. He died in 1935 after being hit by an automobile. A memorial exhibition of his works was held at UC Berkeley in 1936. (TNB 11/2015) Selected bibliography: Ganz, James A., ed. Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Exhibition catalog. San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and Oakland: University of California Press, 2015. Hailey, Gene, ed. “Perham Wilhelm Nahl,” in California Art Research, Vol 1, pp. 78-83. San Francisco: 1937. Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California 1786-1940. 2nd edition, p. 398. San Francisco: Hughes Publishing Company, 1989.