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 Lon Megargee  (1883 - 1960)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/California/Arizona      Known for: cowboy genre painting, illustration, graphics

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Ad Code: 2
Lon Megargee
from Auction House Records.
The Siesta
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lon Megargee, at age 13, ran away from his upper class home and went West in 1896 led by his zest for the wild and adventuresome life.  There he established a reputation as a cowboy painter and illustrator with work most associated with Arizona Brewing Company ads featuring humorous aspects of cowboy life.

In his youth, he worked as a free-lance cowboy, exhibition roper, poker dealer, and bronco buster in Arizona, and then went east again to study art in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and to New York at the Art Students League and Pratt Institute.

He returned to Arizona, living in Cave Creek, Salt River Canyon, Phoenix and the last years of his life near Sedona.  His Phoenix home later became a popular hotel and dining place called the Hermosa Inn.

Megargee was a ranch owner and also did oil canvases of the places he loved and the cowboy life he admired.  By 1910, he was among the earliest resident artists, and was probably the best known artist in Arizona.  His name was first associated with a landscape series of 15 large murals for the Capitol Building, newly constructed just after Arizona became a state in 1912.  Another one of his paintings, Elemental, was the first painting by an artist living in Arizona to be acquired for the Municipal Collection of Phoenix.  These works were chosen from entries in the State Fair, where he continued to win prizes for figure and landscape painting.

From 1911 to 1953, he did numerous commission works for the Santa Fe Railroad, including a work titled Navajos Watching a Santa Fe Train.  Between 1915 and 1930, he also painted in the Los Angeles area of California and had entries in the California State Fair.  He died in Cottonwood, Arizona.  After his death, the Saturday Evening Post had a double-page reproduction of his painting Cowboy's Dream.

Source:
Betsy Fahlman, The Cowboy's Dream

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Philadelphia, PA on Feb. 9, 1883, Lon Megargee had a desire to be a cowboy, which led him as a teenager to Arizona where he bought a ranch.  After a drought ended his ranching ambitions, he opted for an art career.

He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Art Students League of New York City, Pratt Institute, National Academy of Design and Cooper Union.  Upon moving to Los Angeles in 1909, he was an art director at Paramount Studios for several years.

An itinerant painter, he specialized in western subjects.

He died in Cottonwood, Arizona on Jan. 24, 1960.

Exhitions:
Arizona State Fair, 1914; Kanst Gallery (LA), 1915; California Art Club, 1916-20; Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1925; California State Fair, 1930; Painters & Sculptors of LA, 1920-35; Painters of the West (LA), 1927-30; Biltmore Salon (LA), 1927, 1930; Ilsley Gallery (LA), 1933; Foundation of Western Art (LA), 1933; Penguin Bookshop (LA), 1933; Calif.-Pacific Int'l Expo (San Diego), 1935; Bernay Gallery (LA), 1942; Grand Central Gallery (NYC), 1956 (solo).

Collections:
Santa Fe Railway; Phoenix Woman’s Club; Museum of New Mexico; Arizona Capitol Building
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Los Angeles Times, 8-8-1915; American Art Annual 1919; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Who's Who in American Art 1940-47; American Art Review, Feb. 2002.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site:
Lawrence Alonzo Megargee was an American illustrator, painter and graphic artist who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 10.  The documentation of Megargee's birth ranges from 1883 to 1900.  He studied art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, National Academy of Design in New York City, Art Students League in New York City, Pratt Institute Art School in Brooklyn, Cooper Union Art School in New York and Grand Central Art School in New York.

Megargee, who wanted to be a cowboy, moved to Arizona while still a teenager (thirteen years old).  He worked as an exhibition roper in a Wild West show, a bronco buster, a fireman, a poker dealer, a police captain and a rancher on his own ranch.  A severe drought put him out of business soon afterward, but another ambition emerged—the desire to portray the Southwest.  Having worked as a cowboy, he often showed the humorous side of cowboy life in his illustrations.

He exhibited at the Texas Centennial Exposition, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1936, Arizona Painters and Sculptors in 1938.  Exhibitions in New York City include the Forty-Eight States Competition in 1939, Grand Central Art Gallery, Cross Roads of Sport, Ackerman Gallery, Harlow Gallery.  Megargee was an illustrator for The Spur, Country Life and Sportsman Magazine. 

His work is held in the collections of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe, Arizona Capitol Building (ca. 1911), Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, Santa Fe Railway Collection and the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Ganado, Arizona.  The Santa Fe Railway acquired its large collection of Megargee's work between 1911 and 1953.  His paintings are also in the inventory of Amercan Paintings at the Smithsonian Institution.  Many other paintings by Megargee have been reproduced in Arizona Highways, and as illustrations for commercial firms.

Megargee's career included a period in Los Angeles where he worked for several newspapers and later at the old Lasky (Paramount) Studio where he was head of the art department.  He became best known for his illustrations for ads for Arizona Brewing Company featuring humorous aspects of cowboy life.  After his death on January 24, 1960, in Cottonwood, Arizona, The Saturday Evening Post published a double-page reproduction of Megargee's "Cowboy's Dream."

REFERENCES:

Dawdy, Doris Ostrander.  Artists of the American West:  A Biographical Dictionary.  [1974] 3 vols.  Chicago: Swallow Press.  1985.

Falk, Peter Hastings.  Who Was Who in American Art.  Connecticut: Sound View Press.  1985.

Samuels, Peggy and Harold.  Samuels' Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West.  New Jersey: Castle.  1985.

____________.  "Lon Megargee."  Arizona Highways.  February 1974, 6-9,


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Lon Megargee is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Grand Canyon
The California Art Club
Taos Pre 1940



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