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George Elbert Burr

 (1859 - 1939)
George Elbert Burr was active/lived in Colorado, Arizona.  George Burr is known for etchings and paintings-desert landscape, botanical.

George Elbert Burr

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for George Elbert Burr
Born in Monroe Falls, Ohio, George Burr became a noted etcher as well as pastel and watercolor painter of desert and Rocky Mountain scenes.  He produced over 1000 watercolors and pulled more than 25,000 etchings generally small in size and showing "the miniaturist's precise delicacy". (Samuels 77)

George Burr had early art instruction from his mother, and when he was ten, moved with his family to Cameron, Missouri, where his father bought a hardware store.  The young George began experimenting early with etching techniques and then studied for three months at the Art Institute of Chicago, his only formal training.

In 1890, he became an itinerant illustrator for Harper's and Leslie's Weekly, and also did a commission of 1000 pen-and-ink- drawings for a Metropolitan Museum catalog of a bronze and jade collection owned by Heber R. Bishop.  The money he made from this and other Bishop commissions allowed him to travel in Europe for four years, and he did hundreds of sketches there.

In search of a better climate for his health, he moved to Denver in 1906, but he and his wife spent their winters in the deserts of New Mexico, Southern California, and Arizona.  From these travels, he did his most famous etchings, a series called "Desert Set." He settled in Phoenix in 1924, and lived there until his death in 1939 at age eighty.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

Biography from David Cook Galleries
Biography photo for George Elbert Burr
George Elbert Burr
Born Ohio, 1859
Died Arizona, 1939

Ten years after his birth in Monroe Falls, Ohio, George Elbert Burr moved with his parents to Cameron, Missouri, where his father opened a hardware store.  Burr was interested in art from an early age and his first etchings were created with the use of zinc scraps found in the spark pan under the kitchen stove.  He then printed the plates on a press located in the tin shop of his father's store.

In December of 1878, Burr left for Illinois to attend the Art Institute of Chicago (then called the Chicago Academy of Design).   By April of the following year, Burr had moved back to Cameron.  The few months of study in Chicago constituted the only formal training the artist was to have.

Back in Missouri, Burr heeded his family's wishes by working in his father's store. However, he did not abandon his art, often using his father's railway pass to travel around the countryside on sketching trips.  In 1894, Burr married Elizabeth Rogers, and the following year he became an instructor for a local drawing class.

By 1888, the artist was employed as an illustrator for Scribner's, Harper's, and The Observer.  During that time, his illustrations were also published in Volume II of John Muir's Picturesque California.  In December of the same year, Burr relocated to New York City for several months to work on assignment for The Observer.  Over the next several years, Burr worked and traveled extensively as an illustrator contributing to additional periodicals including The Cosmopolitan and Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

In 1892, Burr began a four-year project to illustrate a catalog for the Metropolitan Museum of Art of Heber R. Bishop's jade collection.  After completing approximately 1,000 etchings of the collection, Burr used the money he earned on the project to fund a trip abroad.  The artist and his wife spent the years between 1896 and 1901 sketching and traveling on a tour of Europe that spanned from Sicily to North Wales.  After their return from Europe, the Burr's settled in New Jersey where Burr sustained a living through the sale of his etchings and watercolors. During the next few years, Burr's watercolors were displayed in galleries and exhibitions along the east coast and as far west as Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1906, the couple moved to Denver, Colorado, in an effort to improve George's poor health.  While in Colorado, Burr completed Mountain Moods, a series of 16 etchings.  His years in Denver were highly productive despite his poor health.  He gained membership to art organizations including the New York Society of Etchers and the Brooklyn Society of Etchers (later renamed Society of American Etchers). Burr's winters were spent traveling through the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico.  In 1921, Burr obtained copyrights on the last of 35 etchings included in his well-known Desert Set.

Burr's failing health prompted a move to a more moderate climate and the couple settled in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1924.  In Phoenix, Burr served as president of the Phoenix Fine Arts Association and participated in the city's first major art exhibition. Burr remained in Phoenix until his death in 1939.

Throughout his lifetime Burr worked in a variety of mediums creating approximately fifty oil paintings, over a thousand watercolors, two-thousand pen-and-ink drawings and over twenty-five thousand etchings all pulled from his own presses.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery
George Elbert Burr moved from his birthplace of Monroe Falls, Ohio to Cameron, Missouri when he was ten years old. His father opened a hardware store and George, using the rail pass purchased for buying trips, began traveling around the region to sketch the landscape. He began to make etchings on scraps of zinc while still employed at the hardware store and, in December of 1878, enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago.

He would last only three months, leaving to return to Cameron, where he worked at the store and married a local woman named Elizabeth Rogers. He continued his work, becoming employed as an instructor of drawing and, eventually, an illustrator for such publications as Scribner's, Harper's, The Observer, Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and The Cosmopolitan. In 1892, Burr undertook a four-year project to illustrate a catalog of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heber R. Bishop Collection of jade. The work as arduous, amounting to a thousand etchings of the collection, but earned Burr enough to travel Europe with his wife for more than four years.

Upon returning to the United States, Burr settled in New Jersey, where he earned a living selling paintings and prints in galleries from New York to Kansas City. George's rapidly deteriorating health led the couple to look for a new place of residence, however, and they moved to Denver, Colorado in 1906. Here, George completed Mountain Moods, one of the two famous etching series he would complete during his lifetime. He became a member of the Brooklyn Society of Etchers and the New York Society of Etchers and traveled throughout Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico.

As Burr aged his health worsened and, in 1924, he moved with his wife to Phoenix. In Phoenix, Burr served as president of the Phoenix Fine Arts Association. He would remain in Phoenix until his death in 1939.

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About  George Elbert Burr

Born:  1859 - Monroe Falls, Ohio
Died:   1939 - Phoenix, Arizona
Known for:  etchings and paintings-desert landscape, botanical

Essays referring to
George Elbert Burr

San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915