John Adam Hermann, Jr. was born on the North Side in 1855.
As a child, he dreamed of becoming an artist. He loved art and wanted to spend his entire life painting, but at the age of 18 he obediently went into his father's leather business, located on East Ohio Street, in Allegheny City. He worked at the leather business for 37 long years, painting only on weekends in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City, and in rural Pennsylvania.
At age 55, a lifelong bachelor, he settled his father's estate and was finally able to devote the remainder of his life to realizing his early dream of becoming a full-time artist. Like many of his fellow American artists, John Hermann was self-taught and his paintings were little known outside his immediate circle of family and friends during his lifetime. He did receive some recognition and great admiration for his "on location" watercolor painting in the State of Florida, where he painted often while on holiday. John Hermann had already decided, at some earlier point in time, never to sell or disperse his paintings.
The immaculate John A. Hermann Memorial Art Museum has been located at 318 Lincoln Avenue since 1976. The museum showcases an enormously diverse collection and continues to house the entire life work of this native Bellevue artist. There is a wide series of Pittsburgh paintings that evoke warm memories of past events and neighborhoods that are an integral part of our local history. Along with landscape images of Pennsylvania nature, Hermann captured in watercolor every single fountain and statue that once stood in Allegheny Park, now the North Side. Beyond the local images, there are a multitude of European landscapes, domestic seascapes and portraits.
When he died in 1942, he generously bequeathed over 1,000 beautifully framed paintings to the Bellevue community, as well as various bronzes and ivories that he collected during a later period of world travel and exploration. His intent was for people of the Bellevue to enjoy his art as much as he enjoyed creating it. John Hermann's prolific collection of oil paintings, sketches and watercolors, spanning the early 1900s through to his death, are literally a chronicle of earlier times and places.
The fact that John Hermann never sold his paintings has culminated in the unique personal museum that can be seen today. John Hermann the artist was always growing and exploring his craft up until his death in 1942 and his determination to keep his work and collection of fine art intact, surrounds all visitors to the museum.