The Hafen Home, built c. 1900, was designed by Alberto O. Treganza in the Swiss Chalet style, as a studio and residence for the artist John Hafen (1856-1910). Born in Switzerland, Hafen emigrated to Utah in 1862 with his parents. He struggled for financial success as an artist and became particularly well know for his landscape paintings. He was sent by the Mormon Church to Paris to study art so he could paint murals in the LDS temples. He was instrumental in founding the Springville Museum of Art in 1903.
The John Hafen House, at 1002 S. Main St. in Springville, Utah.
The John Hafen house, built in about 1900, is significant as being the home of John Hafen; a prominent Mormon pioneer artist. John Hafen played an important role in producing works of art for the Mormon Church and also works which brought him recognition throughout the state of Utah, and various additional areas of the country. Hafen is known for his beautiful landscape paintings. When settlers first came into the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys, they were faced with both an environmental desert, and a cultural desert. John Hafen was one artist who helped turn a vast and barren area into a place of beauty and culture. His talents and contributions brought him recognition in many parts of
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (#82004182) in 1982.
John Hafen was born in Canton, Thurgan, Switzerland on March 22, 1856. His father, a landscape gardener, was Johann Hafen. His mother was Anna Elizabeth Ruesi, the daughter of an artist. The Hafen family came to the United States
when John was six years old and they settled in Utah in 1862.
Although John Hafen had a great love for art, and he showed his interest very early in life, his career as a painter got off to a slow start. Once married, and with a family, he found it difficult to make a living through his art. He therefore tried many different ways of supporting himself and his family, among which was making historic photograph enlargements. His life was dominated by struggle and hardship, and he never did make a significant profit from his work
Nevertheless, his work became well known, and though not financially, in every other way he was a successful painter. For many years his work was commissioned by the Mormon Church. In 1890 he ws sent on a mission by the church
for the purpose of studying art in Europe. In return for this, he painted some murals for the temples of the church.
Upon Hafen’s return from Europe, he was awarded a $300.00 prize from Utah Art Institute for his work. He received the prize again, several years later. He received much recognition in his home state.
Still, the artist’s work did not stay within the realm of the Mormon Church, or even in the state of Utah. Finding it hard to work only in Utah, Hafen worked in Monterey, California as well. 5 His works were exhibited in Paris, the Chicago Art Institute, Philadelphia, Saint Louis, and Indiana. In 1908 he won a prize at the Illinois State Fair for the best landscape. He was credited for starting an artists colony in Brown County Indiana, and was also instrumental in helping to found the Springville Art Gallery.
Although John Hafen’s work as an artist was a struggle for him, financial difficulty did not inhibit his love of art. On the mission of art he wrote:
The influence of art is so powerful in shaping our lives for a high appreciation of the creations of our God that we cannot afford to neglect an acquaintance with it. We should be as eager for its companionship as we are eager for chairs to sit upon or for food to sustain our lives, for it has as important a mission in shaping our character and in conducing to our happiness as anything that we term necessities. Life is incomplete without it. A religious life is not an ideal religious life without art.
John Hafen was both artistic and religious, and his statement reflects his faith and determination with which he approached his life and work. His hard work began to bear fruit towards the end of his life, as he started to receive
more money for his painting. Tragically, Hafen died during the peak of his career, in 1910. He was fifty-four years old.
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