Henry Mosler, like so many of his contemporaries, gained his artistic training in Europe and achieved lifelong success in his career. His family immigrated from Germany when he was a young boy and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1851. Mosler began his artistic career as an engraver and illustrated for Harper's Weekly during the early years of the Civil War. To further his artistic study, he traveled first to Dusseldorf in 1863 and then to Paris two years later. He returned to Cincinnati in 1866 and began a very successful career as a portraitist commissioned by many of the community's business and civic leaders. The subject of Mosler's painting later began to change from portraiture to genre when he married in 1870 and began a family. After the birth of his first child, he created drawings and small paintings that centered on family life.
It was during Mosler's return to Munich in 1870 that he became specialized in genre painting: "Influenced by his earlier training in Dusseldorf, he continued to develop and exploit genre themes set in exceedingly well-researched environments. He also learned to emulate diverse textures from silk and velvet to fur and hair in a life-like manner, a skill for which Munich was renowned." (Henry Mosler Rediscovered, Los Angeles, California, 1995, p. 39) From Munich, Mosler moved to France in 1877, where he was enchanted with the everyday life of the Britons, and endeavored to translate their daily activities onto his canvases from an idealized point of view. "While not an innovator in this trend, Mosler's efforts in the genre included signature elements: combining highly accurate depiction of Breton peasant life - domestic interiors, specialized dress, and folk customs -with his penchant for dramatic story telling." (Henry Mosler Rediscovered, p. 42)
The Secret Visitor is a beautiful example of Mosler's Breton genre painting. The scene depicts a young woman, busy at her daily chores, who has just received a visit from an admirer. The visit is abruptly interrupted by the entry of an older matron. The bouquet of flowers, lying on the floor beside the young woman, give away the gentleman's romantic intentions. Mosler creates a modest interior, which accentuates her brilliant red embroidered dress.