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Peter Rindisbacher

 (1806 - 1834)
Peter Rindisbacher was active/lived in Missouri, Wisconsin / Canada, Switzerland.  Peter Rindisbacher is known for frontier-Indian genre sketches, portrait painting.

Peter Rindisbacher

Biography from the Archives of askART

An early specialist in watercolor scenes of frontier life, Peter Rindisbacher  is credited as being "the first pioneer artist recording genre of Western Indians".  (Samuels, 400).   He was born in Upper Emmenthal, Canton Bern in Switzerland in 1806, and received some art training before moving in 1821 with his family to western Canada  where they joined a colony on the Red River settled by the Earl of Selkirk.  Along the way during the trip, Rindisbacher sketched scenes including landscapes, icebergs and Eskimos.

During the five years he lived in the frontier settlement, he helped to support his family by the sale of drawings and watercolors, which depicted frontier life.  About 1822-23, the colony's governor, Andrew Bulger, asked him to sketch scenes of some of the British forts in the area, and these works brought him attention in England where some of the scenes were lithographed. 

The Rindisbachers moved south into Wisconsin to Gratiot's Grove in 1826, having been driven out of Canada by severe weather and other trying circumstances, and in 1829 they settled in St. Louis, Missouri where Peter did magazine illustrations of western scenes for The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine.  

In 1829, just before the move to St. Louis, Caleb Atwater, Indian Commissioner, hired him to record the Indian treating gathering with white men in Wisconsin at Prairie du Chien.

Peter Rindisbacher died in 1834 at age twenty-eight just when he was gaining national attention for his work.

One of his Canadian paintings, a watercolor, is titled Extremely Tiring Trails on the Portages, and depicts very rough hill country. "Portage" refers to the physical carrying of boats and all supplies between the lakes and rivers used by the fur traders in the early days of the Canadian fur trade, when there were no real roads for travelling.

Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. has written The Artist was a Young Man: The Life Story of Peter Rindisbacher, published by the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1970. It is one of the few books on Rindisbacher, and the only one in English. It is an excellent summary and beautifully illustrated with Rindisbacher's works.

Sources include:

Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

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About  Peter Rindisbacher

Born:  1806 - Canton Bern, Switzerland
Died:   1834 - St. Louis, Missouri
Known for:  frontier-Indian genre sketches, portrait painting