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 Edmund Henry Osthaus  (1858 - 1928)

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Lived/Active: Ohio/California/Florida / Germany      Known for: hunting dogs, genre-huntsmen, landscape

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Edmund Henry Osthaus (German-American, 1858-1928)

Born in Hildesheim, Germany, Edmund Osthaus studied at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1874 and 1882.  There in Dusseldorf he was instructed by noted artists Andreas Muller, Peter Jansen, E.V. Gebhardt, E. Deger and later by Christian Kroner a wildlife painter and landscapist.

Osthaus immigrated to the United States in 1883 to be with his parents in Ohio.  He eventually became the chief instructor of the Toledo Academy of Fine Arts, and later the director of the Academy between 1886 and 1893.  After he resigned, Osthaus devoted his time to shooting and painting for his own fulfillment.

Osthaus knew dogs comprehensively and participated in field trials and confirmation shows with his own setters and pointers.  Furthermore, he judged trials and was a charter member of the National Field Trial Association formed in Newton, North Carolina in 1895.  His immersion in the world of competitive gun dogs provided abundant subject matter.

True to his classical art education, Osthaus executed detailed and life-like portraits of dogs in the field at work, and at play and rest.  His mediums were watercolor, oil and pencil.  Many of his paintings included field trial champion pointers and setters. Generally he executed compositions of one, two or three dogs and on occasion more, working from life.  His paintings are captivating and pull viewers into the composition - one can easily imagine his dogs running afield and moments of suspense from the hunt.

Osthaus painted setters which display a traditional sitting position. Setters were derived from medieval hunting dogs that were trained to find birds and then to “set” (crouch or lie down) so that a net could be thrown over both the birds and dog. As firearms came into use, setters were trained to adopt a more upright stance.  Over time, training elevated the tail of setters and pointers to an upright position.

The artist’s paintings came into great demand in the late 1890’s. Wealthy families and collectors, such as the Vanderbilts and Morgans, became patrons commissioning large scenes for their lavish homes.  Also, Osthaus furthered his reputation with a series of postcards, prints, and calendar pictures done for the DuPont Company.

Osthaus established a studio in Los Angeles, California in 1911 and stayed there for the remainder of his life.  However, he traveled frequently, painting throughout the States.  He maintained homes in Ohio and New Jersey, and wintered on his hunting property in Marianna, Florida.  On January 30, 1928, at the age of seventy, Osthaus passed away while at his Florida lodge.  Today he is best known for having chronicled the American field dog and producing a sizable body of scenes of gun dogs at work of exceptional quality.

Written by Curtis Tierney

Sources:
William Secord, A Breed Apart, The Art Collection of the American Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog
The Horse and Hound in Art: An Encyclopedia of Sporting Art

Literature:
A Breed Apart, The Art Collection of the American Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, Secord, William, Antique Collector’s Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk England, 2001, 325 pages
Animal and Sporting Art in America, Reuter Jr., Turner, The National Sporting Library, Middleburg, Virginia, 2008, 880 pages
Artists in California, 1786-1940, Hughes, Edan Milton, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California, 2002, 1250 pages (two volumes)

Collections:   
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Port Huron Museum, Port Huron, Michigan
The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio
The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, Maryland


Biography from Red Fox Fine Art:
Excerpt from Animal and Sporting Artists in America by F. Turner Reuter, Jr. © 2008:

Osthaus was born in Hildesheim, Hannover (now Germany), on 5 August 1858. He studied at the Royal Arts Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany, with Andreas Muller, Peter Jansen, E. von Gebhardt, Ernst Deger, and Christian Kroner. In the early 1860s Osthaus' parents and younger siblings moved to Mexico in the employ of the Austrian Archduke Maximilian, whom Napoléon III had installed as Emperor of Mexico while the United States was distracted from foreign affairs by the Civil War; when his rule there was overthrown the Osthauses moved to Oshkosh, WI.

Edmund joined them in 1883, where he shared a studio with his sister, Marie, also an artist. Shortly afterward he moved to Toledo, OH, at the invitation of David R. Locke, a local newspaperman and collector. Osthaus became an instructor there and with complexity, completed single dog portraits on a typical twenty-four by thirty-six inch canvas as examples of impressive sizes.

Oshthaus also produced a series of postcards, lithographs and calendar pictures for duPont, including every national champion from the first, Count Gladstone IV in 1896, through Monora in 1911; all were setter dogs except the 1909 winner, the pointer dog Manitoba Rap. At the persuasion of William Bruette, the editor of Forest and Stream magazine, Osthaus executed a series of eleven etchings of subjects including fox hounds, German shepherds, collies, bird dog puppies, a setter bitch and pups, as well as pointers and setters, with a limited number of impressions produced that were signed in pencil by the artist.

Osthaus was a member of the Tile Club in Toledo. He exhibited there regularly, showing such works as his Partridge Shooting and Retriever, both in 1903. At the Art Institute of Chicago (IL) he showed Still Evening in 1903 and, in 1911, Early Rambles and Setters.

The Port Huron (MI) Museum of Arts and History has his Major, a portrait of a St. Bernard, and In the Field. The Toledo Museum of Art has another portrait of Major, among other works. The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH, has his Family Portrait and his Setters in a Field is at the Morris Museum of Arts and Sciences in Bernardsville, NJ. The Pebble Hill Plantation Museum in Thomasville, GA, has his oils, A Setter and a Pointer and Setters on Point. Other institutions holding his work include the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, VA; the Albany (GA) Museum of Art; and the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in St. Louis, MO.

Osthaus died at his hunting lodge in Marianna, FL, on 30 January 1928.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
Born in Hildesheim, Germany, Edmund Osthaus studied at the Royal Academy in Dusseldorf. There he studied under artists Andreas Muller, Peter Jansen, E.V. Gebhardt, E. Deger and Christian Kroner.

In 1883, Osthaus came to the United States, where he became the principal of the Toledo Academy of Fine Arts in Toledo, Ohio. After the school closed, Osthaus devoted himself to painting.

Hunting and fishing were his passion, and became the subject of most of his works. However, his specialty was hunting dogs, and he quickly became known for his detailed and life-like portraits of them at work and play. Osthaus followed dog shows and sporting events, and his dog portraits include field trial champion pointers and setters.

In 1911, Osthaus established a studio in Los Angeles, California, and remained based there for the remainder of his life. He also maintained homes in Ohio and New Jersey, as well as a hunting lodge in Marianna, Florida, where he died at the age of seventy.

His works are held by the Toledo Museum of Art and are collected by hunting and fishing aficionados all over the world.


Reference:
November/December 2002 Wildlife Art,
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
EDMUND OSTHAUS (1858-1928)

Born in Hildesheim, Germany, Edmund Osthaus studied at the Royal Academy in Dusseldorf under the tutelage of Andreas Muller, Peter Jansen, E.V. Gebhardt, E. Deger and Christian Kroner. He came to the United States in 1883 where he became the principal of the Toledo Academy of Fine Arts in Toledo, Ohio.

After the school closed, Osthaus devoted his entire time to painting. Hunting and fishing were his passion and the subject of most of his paintings. He quickly became known for his specialty, hunting dogs.

Osthaus died at the age of seventy at his hunting lodge near Marianna, Florida. His works are held by the Toledo Museum of Art and are collected by hunting and fishing aficionados all over the world.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


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