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 John Hauser  (1859 - 1913)

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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: Indian portrait and frontier genre painting

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John Hauser
from Auction House Records.
A Suspicious Sound
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, John Hauser was one of several early 20th-century Ohio artists known for paintings of Western Indians.  His birth date is given as both 1858 and 1859.  He is given credit for doing much to educate Americans about the culture of frontier Indians, including Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, and Sioux.  He also did a series of portraits of Indian chiefs such as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Spotted Tail and Lone Bear.

Hauser was the son of a German cabinet maker and showed early aptitude for art. Before age 15, he studied at the Ohio Mechanic's Institute and at the Cincinnati Art Academy, and he later studied with Thomas Noble at the McMicken Art School.  In 1880, he enrolled in the Munich Royal Academy of Fine Arts as a student of Nicholas Gysis and then did further study in Dusseldorf and Paris, staying in Europe until 1891.

He taught drawing in the Cincinnati public schools, and in 1891, the same year he accepted that teaching assignment, he traveled to Arizona and New Mexico where he was captivated by the scenery and Indians.  After this initial trip, he continued to make yearly visits to reservations where he did highly realistic depictions of Indian figures, genre, and animals.

He did many portraits of famed Indian chiefs including Lone Bear, Spotted Tail, and High Horse.  His love and sympathy for the Indians was recognized in 1901 when he and his wife were adopted into the Sioux nation, and he was given the name "Straight White Shield" and his wife was named "Bring Us Sweets."

His last work was a mural titled Perry's Victory for the Cincinnati Yacht Club, of which he was one of the founders.

During his travels, he accumulated a huge collection of Indian artifacts and artworks, and most of these pieces he donated to the Cincinnati Art Museum before he died in 1913.

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

Biography from Eisele Gallery of Fine Art:
John Hauser (January 30, 1859 - October 6, 1913) was a painter best known for his portraits of American Indians/Native Americans and depictions of various aspects of Indian life.

The son of German immigrants, he was born in Cincinnati, where he remained for his entire life, with the exception of numerous study trips to Europe and visits to various Native American tribes in the southwest and, perhaps his favorite, the Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation.

He received his early education in the Cincinnati public school system, studied drawing at the Ohio Mechanics' Institute, and in 1873 enrolled in the McMicken Art School, studying under Thomas S. Noble. 1880 marked the first of his European study periods, when he traveled to Munich, where he studied at the Royal Academy of fine Arts.

In 1883 he became a member of the Drawing Dept. of the Cincinnati Public Schools, a position he held until he withdrew in 1886 to set sail for Europe, in the company of another Cincinnati artist, Joseph Henry Sharp. The two traveled in Germany and then enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art in Munich in October. Hauser completed this program and then continued his studies in Paris, Dusseldorf, and again in Munich.

Upon his return to Cincinnati, Hauser began to establish his reputation as an artist. In 1890 he became one of the early members of the Cincinnati Art Club. 1891 was a very significant year: it marked his first trip to Arizona and New Mexico and the beginning of his interest in portraying Native Americans in his paintings and his lifelong enchantment with the American Indian and the west. Thereafter he traveled to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota any and every chance he had through 1908.

On July 8, 1896, he married Minnie Boltz. The marriage was to remain childless. Minnie often traveled with him, and in 1901 John and Minnie became adopted members of the Sioux nation with the names "Straight White Shield" and "Bring Us Sweets," respectively. John and Minnie Hauser spent considerable time on the Pine Ridge reservation, tenting on the Sioux lands for six months a year between 1901 and 1905. In 1904 the couple built a home in the Clifton area of Cincinnati, naming their house "Pine Ridge," reflecting their love of and respect for the Sioux.

Hauser painted hundreds of portraits of Native Americans, including Sitting Bull, Little Wound, Bald Face, Red Cloud, and countless others. Contemporary accounts comment on the realistic accuracy reflected in the portraits, and also in his portrayals of scenes from Indian life.

A new, non-commercial project is underway to produce a catalogue raisonné and a full biography of John Hauser. For further information please see the Web site

Text researched and written by Edward Harris.

Biography from Roughton Galleries,Inc:
John Hauser was born to German immigrants in Clifton, Ohio in 1858 (59) and died October 6, 1918 in Cincinnati, Ohio. After showing an early interest in drawing, he enrolled at the Ohio Mechanics' Institute to begin studying drawing. Hauser then moved to Cincinnati where he began his more formal art training at the Cincinnati Art Academy and later at the McMicken Art School.

In 1880, John Hauser traveled to Munich to study at the Royal Academy of Art under Nicholas Gysis (1842-1901). Returning to Cincinnati, he supported himself by teaching art in the public schools.

In 1885, Hauser returned to Germany to continue working under Gysis and others at Dusseldorf Academy. Like other American artist during this period, Hauser journeyed to Paris to study at the École des Beaux Arts.

By the 1890s, Hauser had become interested in the American Indian; he traveled through reservation after reservation of the Apache and Pueblo Indians in Arizona and New Mexico, sketching and painting. He became a trusted friend of the Sioux Nation. In 1901, Hauser and his wife were adopted by the Sioux Nation whose members gave him an Indian name, "Straight White Shield."

For the next 20 years, Hauser and his wife continued travel West, recording through his drawing and painting how the American Indians lived and worshiped. He became known as the American Indian painter. However, his reputation wasn't only for his artistic ability, it was for the authenticity with which he recorded the vanishing way of life of the American Indian.

Hauser painted portraits of many of America's most famous Indian chiefs of the day. His legendary portraits included; Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, American Horse, Spotted Tail, High Horse and Lone Bear. The model for the Indian Head Nickel of the United States government was a composite of two Hauser portraits; Chief Iron Tail, Sioux and Chief John Big Tree, Iroquois.

Besides his small Indian portraits, Hauser painted large canvases of Indian hunters and village life in his careful, realistic and authentic style.


Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
Orlando Museum of Art, FL
Joslyn Art Museum, NE
Rockwell Museum of Western Art, NY
Gilcrease Museum, OK
Cincinnati Art Museum. OH

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III:
A lifelong resident of Ohio, John Hauser became famous as a painter of the American Indian.  Born in Cincinnati, he first studied at the Art Academy in his hometown. In 1880 he went to Europe and enrolled in the Munich Academy, and later spent a period of time in Dusseldorf and Paris.  As in the case with so many other western artists, this type of study led to a style preoccupied with realism, detail, and controlled execution.

Returning to Cincinnati in 1891, Hauser taught drawing and made his first trip west to Arizona and New Mexico that same year, where he painted the Navajo, Pueblo and Sioux Indians.  From that point onward Hauser determined to make a living as an artist of the Indian, and he make yearly visits to the reservations to gather material.  In 1901, he was formally adopted in to the Sioux tribe and given the name "Straight White Shield."

Evan S. Connell, in his book on Custer and the Little Bighorn titled Son of the Morning Star, describes a watercolor painting depicting the battle that was executed for Frederic Remington by Kicking Bear, Chief of the Sioux.  In the painting the battlefield is viewed from about, with the scattered soldiers looking like "dead brown sparrows" and an occasional uncolored outline of a figure to represent a departing spirit. "A number of attractive horses may be seen - yellow, ink, and green horses," Connell writes. "But most significant, in the center of this painting stand four important Sioux: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Rain in the Face and the artist himself."

Like Edgar Paxson, Hauser tended to model his subjects rather heavily, which could very well have resulted from the artist's over-reliance on the photograph as a research tool.  Be that as it may, Hauser's portrait nevertheless effectively conveys the dignity and presence of this famous war chief.

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

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, John Hauser studied at the Ohio Mechanic's Institute and at the Cincinnati Art Association before he reached the age of fifteen.  Deciding to pursue his love of art, he became the pupil of Thomas A. Noble at the McMicken Art School in 1873.  Furthering his studies, he moved to Germany when he was twenty-two years old and became the pupil of Nicholas Gysis at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Munich.

After returning to America in 1891, Hauser traveled extensively throughout New Mexico and Arizona, adopting as his specialty, the American Indian.  He made yearly visits to the reservations, painting portraits of documentary accuracy and genre scenes of Indians in canoes and on horseback.

Hauser so earned the admiration and respect of those Indians that he painted and worked with, that he was officially adopted into the Sioux nation in 1901 and given the Indian name "Straight White Shield."

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John Hauser is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Taos Pre 1940
Western Painters

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