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 Henry Arthur Elkins  (1847 - 1884)

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Lived/Active: Colorado/California/Kansas/Vermont      Known for: mountain landscape

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Henry Arthur Elkins
An example of work by Henry Arthur Elkins
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Ralph Petrozello who credits ART OF THE AMERICAN WEST by Dorothy Harmsen, a reference from a research librarian at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

Although Henry Elkins was born in Vershire, Vermont, he became known in the Middle West for his paintings of Colorado and California and spent most of his short life traveling and painting in the West.

Elkins was one of the artists who crossed the plains to the Rocky Mountains
after the Civil War. In the summer of 1866, H. C. Ford, J. F. Gookins, and Elkins, all living in Chicago, formed a party and started out from the Missouri River. On an adventurous trip to Denver, Colorado, they joined an emigrant train for protection through Indian country. Denver was then a city of 7,000. One of their harrowing experiences occurred when a tornado near Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska, toppled their wagons and collapsed their tents.

Elkins was greatly influenced by the great Albert Bierstadt, under whom he studied. While visiting Chicago Lakes near Georgetown, Colorado, Elkins
was with a party that included Bierstadt, when a storm arose. Bierstadt asked the group to wait while he made a sketch for his masterpiece, "A
Storm in the Rocky Mountains."

Elkins' landscapes were acclaimed by the early settlers of Denver. For some years the Denver newspapers reported on Elkins' work and the receptions
held in his honor by Denver society. Many times the Denver papers also reprinted accounts from the Chicago newspapers of Elkins' artistic endeavors in that city.

In 1872 Elkins completed his monumental painting, "Mt. Shasta," which took three years to accomplish. The picture was on exhibition in Vienna, when he leased a studio in Chicago to paint a companion piece, entitled "Sierra Madre." After being exhibited the world over, "Mt. Shasta" was sold for $15,000, an unheard of price at that time; it was later destroyed in the
Illinois Club fire.

Shortly after Elkins' death in Georgetown, Colorado, his most valuable works were stolen from his studio in Chicago. The search for the missing paintings was continued by his son, H. A. Elkins. "Sierra Madre" was discovered in a Chicago Loop saloon. The find rated headline coverage in Chicago newspapers.

Many of the other paintings were found in the Y.M.C.A. and in an old people's home in Elgin, Illinois, where they were donated by a purchaser who hadn't known they were stolen.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Vershire, VT on May 30, 1847. At age nine Elkins settled in Chicago with his family. Artistically inclined at an early age, he remained a self-taught painter except for a few lessons from Albert Bierstadt who greatly influenced his future work. Accompanied by Chicago artists James Gookins and Henry Chapman Ford, he made his first western trip to the Rocky Mountains in 1866. Traveling by wagon, the trio joined an emigrant train at the Missouri River as a protection from hostile Indians. Elkins traveled constantly in the West and made many trips to California during the 1870s to paint Mount Shasta, Sierra Madre, and other scenic sites. In 1873 he moved from Chicago to Kansas City and by that time was well known in the Midwest for his depictions of the mountain scenery of Colorado and California. He died in Georgetown, CO in July 1884. Exh: Mechanics' Inst. (SF), 1879.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Artists of the American West (Samuels); American Western Art (Harmsen).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born Vershire, VT, May 30, 1847; died Georgetown, CO, July 1884. Painter, specialized in mountain scenes. Live in Chicago 1856-73, working 1864 as a selftaught artist. 1866 formed a party of eight to tour Colorado by wagon. Moved to Kansas City in 1873. Collection: Harmsen Collection; Colorado Spring Fine Arts Center; Delaware Art Museum
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Dawdy, Samuels, Peggy. Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1976.; AskArt,, accessed Sept. 2, 2005; Taft, Lorado. History of American Sculpture. New edition with supplemental chapter by Adeline Adams. New York: Macmillan Co, 1930.
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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