|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Bedford, Pennsylvania, George Ottinger became one of Utah's early painters, having moved there by wagon train in 1861 to accompany his mother, who had become a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Ottinger's subjects were western genre, landscapes, history and portraits, and some of his works reflected his travels to Europe and to Mexico where he did historical scenes of the Aztecs. |
George Ottinger was raised as a Quaker and spent most of his childhood in New York City. At age 17, he ran away and became a sailor on a whaling ship and also mined for gold in California. At age 20, he returned to California, where he took art lessons from Robert Weir, and then at age 25, went briefly to Kentucky, where he had a job tinting photographs.
In Salt Lake City, in addition to his painting of Western genre, landscapes, and portraits, he was a partner in the photography firm of Savage & Ottinger, which became quite successful. He married, bought a home from Brigham Young for $125.00, acted in Shakespearian plays, served as fire chief and adjutant general of the National Guard, and in 1863, was President of the Deseret Fine Arts Association.
He traveled in Mexico where he painted historical and allegorical scenes of the Aztecs, and in 1876, he exhibited a painting "Montezuma Receiving news of the Landing of Cortez" at the Philadelphia Exhibition. In 1879, he traveled extensively in Europe. He remained an active painter to the end of his life.
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
Marc Gregory Ottinger, great great grandson of the artist, communicated to AskART.com that the middle name is spelled Martin, and not "Morton" as some art historians have recorded.
|Biography from Anthony's Fine Art:|
|George M. Ottinger was born in Pennsylvania but was raised in New York
City by his uncle. When he was 17, he ran away to become a sailor
on a whaling ship. Later, he went to California to find gold, and
by the age of 20, he had circumnavigated the globe. At this time,
Ottinger moved to New York City, where he studied briefly under Robert
Weir before attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.|
1861, after having been converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, Ottinger and his mother traveled in a wagon train
from Florence, Nebraska, to Salt Lake City, a distance of 1079
miles. While in Utah, he engaged in a number of
occupations. He was the partner of the photographer C.R. Savage,
and he painted scenery for the Salt Lake Theatre for four years as well
as completing traditional paintings. Ottinger did not get much
money for his paintings; but despite this, he was an influential and
respected man of the community. He was Director of the
Waterworks, Adjutant General of the National Guard, became President of
the Deseret Academy in 1863, (later renamed the University of Utah) and
was a Shakespearean actor.
As an artist, Ottinger can be
classified as a Romantic Realist, and his style is both formal and
naive in nature. He painted a variety of subject matter including
genre scenes, seascapes, landscapes, portraits, and historical
events. One of his paintings, Self-Portrait as Fire Chief,
shows his naive style of painting. The figures are stiff and
stylized, and the perspective is unschooled. But despite these
elements, the painting historically depicts the artist's life with
vibrant colors and an artistic eye.
The current value of his
paintings is attributed, in part, to their accuracy and historic
detail. Among his major works are western scenes and a series of
allegorical and historical interpretations of the history of
Mexico. These paintings provide the viewer with glimpses of the
scenery, lifestyle, clothing, and other articles of the past.
art also is significant because it provided a base for Utah art.
He influenced many young Utah artists and was himself one of early
Utah's most important artists. He taught hundreds of students at
Utah's first institution of higher learning, the University of Deseret,
as well as in private lessons.
Unlike some art, Ottinger's work
was valued during his lifetime. Although he was not able to live
off his earnings as an artist, he had many commissions and earned
numerous medals and awards at art fairs. In his later years
Ottinger was challenged by a shift in stylistic tastes, as the art
market preferred more impressionistic work. This shift in taste caused
him to search for new subject matter that would interest his patrons.
However, he never lost his zeal to keep painting. At the age of
67 he wrote, "Individually I feel as young and ambitious and desirous
to push ahead as ever, despite the years of discouragement and bad
The Springville Museum of Art
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George Ottinger is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painted in Latin America