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 Charles Craig  (1846 - 1931)

About: Charles Craig
 

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Lived/Active: Colorado/Ohio      Known for: Indian genre-portrait and landscape painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Charles Craig
Facts/Data
Birth
1846 (Morgan County, Ohio)
 
Death
1931 (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Lived/Active
Colorado/Ohio

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Indian genre-portrait and landscape painting

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Taos Pre 1940
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Inspired by Western and Indian life, Charles Craig did paintings characterized by detailed accuracy, gained from several years spent living with various tribes and carefully recording the details of their culture.  A fifty-year resident of Colorado Springs, he was the state's first academically trained resident artist, and his paintings reflected many aspects of his region including the Ute Indians.  Friends called him "Pink Face Charlie" because his disposition and his paintings were invariably cheerful and sunny.

Charles Craig was born in 1846 on a farm in Morgan County, Ohio.  He began painting as a boy, creating his palette from natural materials and canvases made from oil and flour treated cotton cloths.

At the age of 19, he traveled West by going up the Missouri River as far as Fort Benton, Montana.  For four years, 1865-1869, he explored, sketched and lived with Indian tribes.  It was during this time that he realized he needed to further his technical skills in order to record his experiences accurately.  He returned to Ohio and set up a studio in Zanesville, where he painted portraits at $75.00 each to earn enough money to finance his art education.

Then he studied for a year in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where Peter Moran, brother of Thomas Moran and a painter of Indians, was influential as one of his teachers.

Returning to Zanesville, Charles Craig did a painting titled Custer's Last Charge, which had detailed descriptions of battlefield weapons, etc.  In 1881, at the urging of his friend, Jack Howland, Craig headed West permanently, stopping first in Taos, New Mexico where he became "the first western artist to paint in Taos". (Samuels 112)

He settled in Colorado Springs for the next fifty years, the earliest resident artist in that resort community and one of the longest to have an active career there.

Craig set up a studio in the building of Howbert's Opera House.  He supplemented his income by giving art lessons and made regular visits to the the Ute reservation in Southwestern Colorado.  One of those trips, in 1893, was with his friend, painter Frank Sauerwein.

Craig's Indian paintings were noted for their detailed accuracy, although many of his later works showed Barbizon influence of Tonalism.  He exhibited regularly in the Antlers Hotel of Colorado Springs, but a fire there in 1895 destroyed many of his works.

Craig died in Colorado Springs in 1931.

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


Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
Born on a farm in Morgan County, Ohio, Charles Craig is known as an important Indian genre painter, Western landscapist and illustrator.  Self-taught as an artist, he made his first Western trip up the Missouri River in 1865, spending four years with various tribes of Indians and getting as far as Fort Benton in Montana.

Returning from his trip, Craig then opened a studio in Zanesville, Ohio.  He painted portraits from life or photographs for $75 each to earn his tuition for art training.  Craig was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1872 to 1873, and also studied with Peter Moran, the younger brother of Thomas Moran.  When Craig returned to Zanesville, he painted Custer’s Last Charge, using descriptions and implements from the battlefield.

In 1881, on his way to Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the urging of fellow painter Jack Howland, Craig became the first major Western artist to paint in Taos, New Mexico.  In 1883, he returned to New Mexico to sketch in Taos and Santa Fe.  However, Craig settled in Colorado Springs, where he made his home for 50 years, and his first studio was in Howbert’s Opera House building.

His paintings of this period are noted for their accuracy of ethnological detail, resulting from his many trips to the Ute reservation in southwestern Colorado.  One of those trips, in 1893, was with Frank Sauerwein.  Craig’s style during that time was hard-edged and literal.  A large number of paintings of this period, however, were lost in 1895 due to a fire in the old Antler's Hotel, which at that time housed Craig’s studio. As one of the first trained Western artists in the area, he took an active part in the art life of Colorado, and his later painting style demonstrated the Barbizon influence.

Called “Pink-Face Charlie,” Craig was always sunny and optimistic, and so were his paintings.

Craig died in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1931.


Source:
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

Biography from Thomas Minckler Fine Art:
Charles Craig (1846-1931) was inspired by Western and Indian life.  His paintings were characterized by detailed accuracy of Indian life, gained from several years spent living with various tribes.

Craig was born in 1846 on a farm in Morgan County, Ohio.  He began painting as a boy, creating his palette from natural materials and canvases made from oil and flour treated cotton cloths.  His nickname was “Pink Faced Charlie” as he was always sunny and optimistic and so were his paintings.

At the age of 19 in 1865, Craig traveled West as far as Fort Benton, Montana, where he lived with Indian tribes for four years.  It was during this time that Craig realized he needed to further his technical skills in order to record his experiences accurately.  He returned to Ohio and set up a studio where he painted portraits to earn enough money to finance his art education.

Craig studied for a year at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He then went on to work with Peter Moran, brother of Thomas Moran, both of who were accomplished painters.  In 1881, Craig moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado where he resided for the next 50 years.  He was one of the first resident artists in that resort community.  He was also the first major Western artist to paint in Taos, NM in 1881 and 1883.

In Colorado Springs, he set up a studio and supplemented his income by giving art lessons.  Craig’s paintings during this period were literal and reflected his frequent trips to the Ute reservation in Southwestern Colorado.  Craig exhibited regularly in the town’s Antlers Hotel, and a fire there in 1895 destroyed many of his works.  Others are exhibited in private collections throughout the United States and Europe.

Craig died in Colorado Springs in 1931.

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