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 John Heber Stansfield  (1878 - 1953)

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Lived/Active: Utah/California      Known for: landscape and portrait painting

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Ad Code: 4
John Heber Stansfield
from Auction House Records.
Western Mountain Range
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Regarded as a talented Utah landscape and portrait painter, John Stansfield was a long-time resident of Mount Pleasant, Utah.  He painted in his spare time from his business and political involvements. 

By the time of his death in Mount Pleasant at the age of seventy-five, he had completed over two-thousand paintings and was well loved and respected as a happy, creative man who lived a productive and domestic oriented life. In contrast to many of his peers who went East to study art, he remained in Utah.

He was from a family that had the largest sheep-holding operation in Utah. In 1905, he married and settled down to a career of building contracting, interior decorating, and serving as Presbyterian Church trustee.  He was Sanpete County Welfare Department administrator and for four years a Mount Pleasant town councilman.

Although he had no formal art training, he was prolific, and it was said that his work had a "uniquely powerful perception of light" and that he could "produce very personal, even mysterious, apprehension of reality on canvas". (136)  However, in his later years, he used the palette knife heavily and his paintings in that style were not quite as well received.

He took numerous summer painting trips to California where he spent a brief time with Thomas Moran in his studio, and also went to the Canadian Rockies and the Southwest, where he sketched at the Painted Desert in the 1920s.  As a volunteer, he taught art for thirteen seasons at Snow College and at the Utah State Prison.

Vern Swanson, Robert Olpin and William Seifrit, Utah Art

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Mt Pleasant, UT in 1878. A sheepherder in his youth, Stansfield turned to art to while away the hours. A self-taught painter, his keen power of observation was put to good use while visiting the studios of J. T. Harwood, H. L. A. Culmer, and Thomas Moran. Although based in Utah throughout his lifetime, Stansfield made many painting excursions to California.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Dictionary of Utah Art.
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.

Biography from Anthony's Fine Art:
John Heber Stansfield was born in the small, central Utah town of Mt. Pleasant in 1878. As a young man, he worked long hours sheepherding, and to help pass the time he drew with charcoal.  Later, his family's successful and growing sheep business meant increasingly less time for art, but Stansfield did become a self-taught painter.  Although he never left the area for formal studies in the East or Europe, as many of his contemporaries did, Stansfield had a natural and unique sense of light and pattern and produced "very personal, even mysterious, apprehensions of reality on canvas."  His early paintings were described by James Haseltine (100 Years of Utah Painting) as "lean, dry, and taut."

By 1905, Stansfield had married and settled down to become a building contractor, decorator, and stalwart member of the community.  He was a Presbyterian Church trustee, served as Sanpete County Welfare Department administrator, and as town councilman.  He managed to fit in time to paint as well as to make occasional visits to other artists' studios and for painting trips to California, the Southwest, and the Canadian Rockies.

He also taught for 13 years at Snow college in Ephraim and as a volunteer instructor at the Utah State prison.  When he died in Mt. Pleasant at the age of 75, he left over 2000 paintings.

Although critics morn his transition to a very saleable palette knife technique that reduced his earlier strong, unique style to a more formulaic approach, Stansfield was a much-loved man whose love and comfort with home set him apart in his generation.

The Springville Museum of Art

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