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Elliott Daingerfield

 (1859 - 1932)
Elliott Daingerfield was active/lived in New York, North Carolina.  Elliott Daingerfield is known for poetic landscape and visionary-religious mural painting.

Elliott Daingerfield

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in Harper's Ferry, Virginia, Elliott Daingerfield was a talented watercolorist who earned a strong reputation while very young but was most known for his depictions of the Grand Canyon which he first visited in 1911.

He painted his colorful, mystical landscapes from memory, and his oil painting, The Genius of the Canyon brought $15,000. in 1920.  Likely this was the highest price paid to date for a work by a living painter.  Completed in 1913, it resulted from his being part of a Santa Fe Railroad sponsored trip to the Grand Canyon of eastern artists.  He regarded modernist artists as "anti God" and railed against them.  He later had a studio at Carmel, California and frequently traveled into Arizona from there to paint the Canyon.

He was raised and educated in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  At age 21, he moved to New York City to study with George Inness Sr. and Walter Satterlee at the Art Students League. Inness became a great promoter of Daingerfield's painting, and he was soon exhibiting at the National Academy of Design and joined the prestigious Holbein Studios.

In 1897 and 1924, he was in Europe and became much influenced by the Barbizon School of painting.  In the 1890s, he turned to religious subjects including a series of large murals for New York churches. He asserted that art was a vehicle of God's expression, the "language of the spirit."

After much ill health, he moved his studio from Blowing Rock to Gainsborough, North Carolina where he died in 1932.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Biography from the Archives of askART
The following information was provided in July of 2006 by Joseph Daingerfield Dulaney, one of two grandsons of the artist:

He came to Blowing Rock in the summer of 1886 for his health and continued to come to Blowing Rock in the summers for the rest of his life.  Students from the Penn School of Design often came and spent extended periods with Mr. Daingerfield and his family in Blowing Rock continuing their studies and painting in the studio or out on the mountains.  He taught at the school from l895 to 1915.
The Gainsboro was the name of the building in NY where he and other artist had their residence.

Biography from The Johnson Collection
"And so in his mountain home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where he spends his summers in an almost primeval environment, he is watching the majesty of the storm, the splendor of the sunset, the gray swirl of fog clouds, and the flowing change of season upon season." (Elliott Daingerfield, Sketch of his Life)

Elliott Daingerfield is considered one of the most prominent artists with North Carolina roots. He was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina where his father was commander of a Confederate arsenal. Daingerfield knew early on that he wanted to be an artist and learned some basics of drawing and painting from a sign painter in Fayetteville. He also assisted a commercial photographer and a china painter. In 1880, he decided to pursue further instruction in New York City and enrolled at the National Academy of Design. His painting, The Monk Smelling a Bottle of Wine, was exhibited at the Academy before the end of his first year there.

In New York, Daingerfield worked as a studio boy and apprentice under William Satterle, who was confident in Daingerfield's skill and eventually asked him to become the instructor of his still life class. While working for Satterle, Daingerfield started taking classes at the Art Students League where he learned more about artistic theories and techniques. Daingerfield's most influential mentor was George Inness, whom he met in 1884 when he moved into a space at Holbein Studios on Fifty-fifth street. The two often watched each other work and spent time in each other's studios. Inness showed Daingerfield how to get the atmospheric effects of light by mixing layers of paint with thin layers of varnish. This technique created a wonderful sense of mood and tone.

Daingerfield set up a studio in Blowing Rock, North Carolina in 1886. Although originally looking for a place to recover from an illness, he found a source of inspiration for his art in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Daingerfield spent the rest of his life traveling between his studios in Blowing Rock and New York City. He taught out of his studio in North Carolina in the summers and at the Philadelphia School of Design and the Art Students League in the winters.

In 1910, Daingerfield was one of five artists selected to travel to the Grand Canyon on a trip commissioned by the Santa Fe Railroad. They wanted to increase tourism by having artists paint the canyon. His paintings of this natural wonder are some of his most famous works and he returned to paint the canyon several times.

Daingerfield felt that there was a very strong link between nature and spirituality. Many of his paintings have a mystical quality about them. Daingerfield said that "spiritual vision is a message imparted to a man of genius who, if he has technical ability, may pass it on to the observer." And also that "Art is the principle flowing out of God through certain men and women by which they perceive and understand the beautiful. The office of the Artist is to express the beautiful." He always strove to achieve this in his paintings - many times by trying to capture the mood and feeling of a place instead of depicting a specific locale. At times, Daingerfield would even write poetry to accompany his paintings.

Daingerfield died in 1932 in New York. His work is represented in numerous museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and National Academy of Design Museum.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery

At times referred to as "the American Millet," a term that applies primarily to his earliest works, Elliott Daingerfield followed in the tradition of the artists he admired and wrote about, George Inness, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and Ralph Blakelock, whose works evoke moods rather than express specific meanings.

Raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Daingerfield left the South in 1880 to seek art training in New York City.  By 1886, when he set up his first summer studio in the mountain community of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, he had established the two cities for his personal life and professional career.

Daingerfield lost his first wife in childbirth in 1891.  Four years later he married Anna Grainger and an idyllic period began.  Daughters Marjorie, born in 1900, and Gwendoline, born in 1904, added to the joy.  Daingerfield's happiness was announced in two paintings executed shortly thereafter. "Autumn", completed in 1907, shows his daughters in glowing light holding baskets of fruit and vegetables, while Anna, cast in the role of Ceres, looks on.  In "High Noon", painted the following year, Anna strolls in the garden at Woodwind, the little girls seated along the path before her.  The picture---composed almost entirely of blue sky and white clouds and rendered in the bright colors and long strokes characteristic of decorative impressionism--- is Daingerfield's most impressionist work.

Daingerfield adored his daughters and they adored him.  Both were artistic, but Marjorie was the only one to pursue a career.  The eldest of the two, she began modeling in clay in childhood.  When she was twelve, Daingerfield had one of her figures cast in bronze. Marjorie attended Solon Borglum's School of American Sculpture and the Grand Central School of Art, both in New York City.  Her work is represented in several private and public collections, including Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina.

Marjorie and Gwendoline Daingerfield were close friends all of their lives.  They preserved their father's oil sketches and drawings, kept track of his significant paintings, and made invaluable contributions to Daingerfield scholarship.

Nancy Rivard Shaw 2002©Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc.


Hobbs, Robert Elliott Daingerfield Retrospective Exhibition. Charlotte, North Carolina: The Mint Museum of Art, 1971.

Pennington, Estill Curtis and J. Richard Gruber. Victorian Visionary: The Art of Elliott Daingerfield Augusta, Georgia: Morris Museum of Art, 1994.

Stacks, William Leon and Alan Z. Aiches. Elliott Daingerfield: The Intimate Landscapes Exh. Cat. St. John's Museum of Art, Wilmington, North Carolina, 1984.

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About  Elliott Daingerfield

Born:  1859 - Harper's Ferry, Virginia
Died:   1932 - New York City
Known for:  poetic landscape and visionary-religious mural painting

Essays referring to
Elliott Daingerfield

Painters of Grand Canyon