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 Edwin Willard Deming  (1860 - 1942)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut/New York/Ohio      Known for: Indian, western genre and animal paitning, camouflage artist

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Edwin Willard Deming
from Auction House Records.
Dance at San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Ashland, Ohio, Edwin Deming was an early illustrator and painter of the American West where he traveled among several Indian tribes.  He had grown up with Sac, Fox, and Winnebago playmates in western Illinois and later lived among Indians for thirty-one years.

He was committed to depicting the unspoiled Indian, a mission he perceived as trying to make amends for corrupting their culture.  It was said that "No painter knew more about the American Indian--his life, culture, and religion" (Harmsen Western Art).

When he was a teenager, he traveled West by train and stagecoach to sketch the Indian territory, but his parents, intent on "practical" pursuits, sent him to Chicago to study business law.  However, he determined to be an artist, so he sold all his possessions to earn money and enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City.  He also studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris for a year with Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre.

From 1885 to 1887, he painted cycloramas and then made his first trip West in 1887.  In 1893, he and artist DeCost Smith traveled West for Outing magazine to write about and illustrate life among the Sioux and Crow Indians.  Frederic Remington joined them on part of that illustration assignment.

Subsequently Deming spent three decades living with Indians including the Apache and Pueblo Indians in the Southwest and the Umatillas in Oregon.  He made occasional trips to New York where he married artist Therese Osterheld, and they raised six children in the West.  The Blackfeet Indians adopted the entire family and gave him the name of "Eight Bears."  When the family returned to New York City, the family's home and studio in Greenwich Village was called "The Lodge of the Eight Bears."

He teamed with his artist-wife to write and illustrate a series of children's books, and he illustrated another children's book by his daughter, Alden.  During World War I, he was in the camouflage department at Camp Benning, Georgia, and he died in New York City in 1942.  Indeed his career indicated that he had followed the advice of Teddy Roosevelt "to paint Indians, as you know them". . .


Source:
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Dorothy Harmsen, American Western Art
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Edwin Willard Deming, born in Ashland, Ohio on 26 August 1860, dedicated his life to the artistic preservation of American Indian culture.  Primarily a painter, he was also a muralist, illustrator and sculptor of Indian and animal subjects. His family moved to Western Illinois while he was a boy, so he probably would not be classified as an Ohio painter. Reportedly, Deming grew up with Indian playmates.  As a teenager, he traveled even further West, by train and stagecoach to Indian territory, to sketch the inhabitants. His parents sent Deming to Chicago to study business law, but he was set on becoming an artist.  Therefore he sold most of his possessions to get money for a trip to New York City and enrolled at the Art Students League.  This was followed by a year in Paris at the Académie Julian.

Back in the Unites States, Deming began to paint cycloramas for a living (1885-87). Then in 1887, he made the first of many trips to the Southwest to paint the Apache and Pueblo.  He then traveled to Oregon to paint the Umatilla and on a later trip he lived for a year with the Indians, learning their ways of life, their culture and their religion.  It is said that no other painter knew more about the Native American than Deming. 

The painter won a medal at the St. Louis Universal Exposition in 1904 and between 1905 and 1910 he made small bronze studies. Deming also exhibited at the National Academy of Design (1890-95), at the Pennsylvania Academy (1895, 1905, 1911), at the Corcoran biennial (1908) and at the Art Institute of Chicago (1916). Also that year, he painted murals of Indian life for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. When the United States entered World War I, Deming, though then 57, volunteered and was commissioned as a captain.  He was active in camouflage work and painted targets.  After his return he lived and worked in New York City until his death on 15 October 1942.


Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.; R.H. Love Galleries, Chicago


Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, I:
Born: Ashland, Ohio 1860
Died: New York City 1942

Painter of Indian and animal subjects in the West beginning 1887, sculptor, muralist, illustrator, writer

Deming grew up with Indian playmates in western Illinois. He studied at the Art Students League until 1884, then in Paris for a year with Boulanger and Lefebvre. From 1885 to 1887 he painted cycloramas. His first Western trip was in 1887 when he visited the Apaches and the Pueblo Indians in the Southwest and the Umatillas in Oregon. During 1889-90 he painted Indian portraits. His Indian paintings, which were first exhibited in 1891 included The Grand Charge That Ended the Fight against Custer. In 1893 he teamed with fellow artist DeCost Smith traveling West to write and illustrate “Sketching Among the Sioux” and “Sketching Among the Crow Indians” for the magazine Outing. The last article written by the two artists, “With Gun and Palette Among the Red Skins,” was illustrated by a third artist, Frederic Remington, who shared other illustrating assignments with Deming.

Deming’s 1916 murals of Indian life are in the American Museum of Natural History and in the Museum of the American Indian. His paintings Mourning Brave and Buffalo Hunt are in the National Museum. As a sculptor, he modeled only a few small bronze studies between 1905 and 1910. The bronzes The Fight and Mutual Surprise are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Deming illustrated his wife’s books on Indian life. His historical painting Landfall of Jean Nicholet was selected for a commemorative US stamp. During WWI, he served as a captain in the US Army’s camouflage department at Camp Benning, Georgia.

Resource: SAMUELS’ Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing

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Edwin Deming is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Taos Pre 1940
Western Painters



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