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 William Gollings  (1878 - 1932)

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Lived/Active: Wyoming/Idaho      Known for: western genre-figure, animal, etcher

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Bill Gollings (Elling William) did paintings known for their accurate accountings of the Old West. Gollings drew upon his own personal experiences as a cowboy, and was also known to have studied and admired the drawings of Frederic Remington, which often appeared in 'Harper's Weekly' magazine.

Bill Gollings was born in 1878 in Pierce City, Idaho. As a boy, he spent much of his time was in New York, Idaho and Michigan. When he was twelve, he and his family moved to Chicago. At age nineteen, Gollings traveled to small mining and cattle towns in South Dakota and Nebraska where he spent most of his time as a sheepherder and cowboy. Despite his ranching activities, he had always possessed an interest in art.

His first exposure to paints was at about age twenty-five when he began working with a set of mail-order paints. After selling several paintings, he was admitted to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts on a scholarship. Returning to Wyoming, he spent time on a Cheyenne reservation as a cowboy once again. Gollings maintained his interest in art and became proficient in etching under the guidance of Wyoming artist Hans Kleiber.

In 1909, Gollings built a studio in Sheridan, Wyoming, giving up ranch life. He did, however, continue to supplement his income by punching cattle and breaking horses. In Sheridan he devoted himself to his painting of western scenes, using "Gollings" and a pony-track symbol to sign his works.

"Bill Gollings" died at age 54 in Sheridan, Wyoming in 1932.


Sources include:
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"
Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

Biography from CALIFORNIA WESTERN and SPORTING ART BUYER:

Bill Gollings
 
At the same time C.M. Russell was making Montana art history, there was an equally talanted artist working as a filly chaser on the FUF horse ranch in Rosebud County, Montana.  His name was Bill Gollings. He later moved to Sheridan, Wyoming and shunning publicity, he quietly painted.  His art finding a home in collections all over the world.
 
Bill Gollings was born in Idaho Territory in the little mining camp of Pierce City in 1878. His mother died when he was quite small and the four little boys were raised by their grandmother on a farm in Michigan.  They returned to Idaho in 1886.  The family returned to Chicago where Bill was educated and worked at various jobs.
 
In 1896 Bill Gollings and a pal headed back west working on various cattle operations, among them the famous old Turkey Track outfit.  About the 15th of April, 1899, he turned his pony loose at a ranch on Rosebud Creek near the Yellowstone River.   In the early Spring of 1903, Bill sent to Montgomery Ward and Company for some oil colors and other equipment to paint with.  Bill later remembered, "When the snow went off I made a few crude attempts at picture making. The people on the ranch thought them were wonderful."
 
Bill Gollings, as a working cowboy, produced hundreds of pen and ink drawings, many of them used as Christmas card grettings which were widely distributed around Billings and Sheridan, Wyoming. "Paint Bill", as he was sometimes called, labored as an artist from 1903 to 1932.  When he died his small studio in Sheridan, Wyoming held approximately 182 oil painting, both finished and unfinished, along with a multitude of etchings.  Gollings works are rare and generally not for sale, because those who own them cherish them not for subject matter alone, but almost always because of a close personal tie with the artist himself still even today.


Elling William Gollings died following a heart attack in mid April, 1932.  He had been ill less than two weeks and death came suddenly.  He was fifty-two years old.
 
Thus this talented man, who seemed to wish anonymity, died alone.  He was recognized and loved by the small coterie of admirers, mostly in his home area, but his talent and worth has finally emerged far and wide, not because he willed it himself, but because his honest art has spoken so eloquently for him.


Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
William Gollings' lifelong artistic preoccupation was similiar to famed western artist Frederic Remington. Like Remington, he longed for a forgotten west, and went about authenticating himself in order to render it carefully and faithfully. The result was much the same as that of his idol, as William Gollings' work has much the same elegiac quality as Remington's better creations.

Born in the Territory of Idaho in 1878, William Gollings' early years were spent in the rough-and-tumble mining camp of Pierce City. His parents felt that his education necessitated his departure from Idaho and sent him to live with his aunt in Michigan. Painting from a Mail Order Montgomery Ward paint set, his early pictures gained him entry into the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, IL. William Gollings studied there for two years before leaving on a train to Rapid City, South Dakota.

From South Dakota, William Gollings set out on a borrowed horse to roam the open ranges and work odd jobs for money, food and shelter. He learned to brand cattle and drive a stage, as well as engaging in the almost obligatory early western activities of fur trapping and panning for gold. The lifestyle was hard, but he stayed at it for five years before he was accepted back in Chicago on scholarship. William Gollings worked hard at his painting but tired of city life and, in 1909, moved to Sheraton, Wyoming and built a small studio for himself with a skylight. After the construction of his studio William Gollings worked less outdoors, but never completely abandoned the cowboy way of life that had drawn him in the first place.

William Gollings was lucky in that, Remington excluded, he got to meet almost all of his artistic heroes during his lifetime, including Edward Borein, W.H.D. Koerner, Charles M. Russell, Will James, Joe D. Young and, more importantly, J.H. Sharp. It was Sharp that encouraged William Gollings more than anyone else, and also taught him technique in order that he might realize his full potential. William Gollings was an apt pupil and his work continued to develop over the course of his career.

William Gollings died in 1932 at the age of 54 in Sheridan Wyoming. His paintings, collected and treasured all over the American west, bear his signature- his last name followed by a pony track insignia.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, II:
Like Charles M. Russell, William Gollings was a cowboy artist who painted the area and way of life that he had come to know in the West. Gollings spent nearly all his life in the Sheridan area of north central Wyoming. He knew his country “by creeks and divides,” to use his own word, and he painted the hills and fence corners that he worked on horseback.

Born in the Territory of Idaho, Gollings was sent by his family to Chicago for schooling. In 1896, determined to work his way back West, the young Gollings traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota, where he signed on as a cowhand for an outfit heading for the Slim Buttes country. After a winter spent herding cattle, Gollings made his way to his brother’s ranch in Montana, on Rosebud Creek near the Yellowstone River. “I realized the cowboy days were about over,” he recalled in his autobiography. “The older men in the game told me as much, and I longed to be a part of at least the last of it.” He worked as an occasional hand over the next five years, gaining much experience, and began to make drawings of what he saw, particularly after he became aware of Frederic Remington’s work. His fellow cowboys nicknamed him “Paint Bill,” and his paintings were reviewed in the Chicago press as being “filled with the breeziness of the plains, with spirited delineations of horses and men.”

In 1909, Gollings built a small studio with a skylight in Sheridan and settled down to work. He met several other artists, most notable Edward Borein, W.H.D. Koerner, Joseph Sharp, and Charles M. Russell. Gollings was in awe of Russell’s art, and established a lifelong association with the Montana artist. Golling’s own art, however, was more directly influenced by Sharp, who helped him with his technique, particularly with regard to colors studies. Every time I go out into the hills I get more and more convinced that there is no more West,” Gollings wrote a friend in 1926. Yet the West that he mourned was preserved in his paintings, as a valuable record of the early history of Wyoming.

ReSources include: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, Dr. Rick Stewart,Hawthorne Publishing Company, 1986

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
E. WILLIAM "Bill" GOLLINGS (1878-1932)

When still very young, Gollings was sent from his birthplace in Idaho to live with his grandmother in Michigan. From there he was sent to Chicago for his education. As a young boy Gollings had visited family in Lewiston, Idaho and saw sights of the vanishing west. His young mind absorbed these scenes; visions of buffalo, Indians and trains traveling through open landscapes consumed his imagination. His lingering and overpowering ambition was to return to the west.

In 1896, Gollings saved enough money to buy a train ticket out of Chicago headed for the West. Upon landing in South Dakota, Gollings worked his way west eventually landing at his brother DeWitt's ranch in Montana. Borrowing a horse he joined other riders on what was termed the "grub trail." Working odd jobs that paid enough for bed and board, he spent the next five years roaming the open range. Branding cattle, driving a stage, trapping for furs, and hunting for gold kept Gollings busy and emersed him in a classic western lifestyle.

Gollings' desire to portray the west in other mediums than sketching materials sent an order into Montgomery Ward and Company for a set of oils and supplies. His first attempts were well received by family and friends and they urged him to return for a formal art training.

In 1905-06 Gollings returned to Chicago and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. During his first year he was awarded a scholarship enabling him to return for a second term the following year. Chicago was no longer home to this budding artist and he craved to return to his beloved west. Returning to Sheridan Wyoming he had a studio built and eventually made the town his home.

During his career Gollings was fortunate to meet several of his great contemporaries. He found encouragement from Will James, Ed Borein, C. Russell, Joe D. Young, W.H.D. Koerner, and Joseph Henry Sharp. It was his eventual friend Sharp who guided Gollings and influenced his work so greatly.

Biography from The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction:
E. William Gollings (1878-1932) was born in a mining camp at Pierce City, Idaho. Although his formal schooling did not go beyond the eighth grade, he learned something about art, and he carefully studied Frederic Remington's drawings in "Harper's Weekly". His admiration of Remington's work was to grow into an idolatry which lasted throughout his life.

Gollings' family moved to Chicago when he was twelve. He began to roam the streets, taking whatever odd jobs he could find: working on railroad engines and in drafting rooms, but mainly working with cattle outfits and absorbing every detail of ranch life.

Gollings' early artistic endeavors included carving horse heads out of laundry soap; and, his first paint set was ordered by mail from Montgomery Wards. He practiced industriously with these materials and his drawings finally earned him a scholarship to the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where he learned to work in oil and watercolor. He also developed a fine technique in etching, much of which he learned from Hans Kleiber of Dayton, Wyoming. Gollings reached a wide audience with his etchings, as many of them appeared on Christmas cards.

Gollings loved being a cowhand, but when he found that there was a market for his artwork, he retired from the range and built a small studio in Sheridan, Wyoming. He reproduced the scenes which he had lived in earlier days on the plains, signing them in his distinctive way, simply "Gollings", followed by a pony track insignia. His skill in various media and the faithfulness of his representation mark his work as a major contribution to the world of Western art.

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