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Ralph Waldo Emerson Meyers

 (1885 - 1948)
Ralph Waldo Emerson Meyers was active/lived in New Mexico, Michigan.  Ralph Meyers is known for Landscape and Indian paintings, photography, art dealer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Meyers

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Ralph Waldo Emerson Meyers
The following is from Michael Coleman of Chicago, Illinois:

Ralph Meyers was a well-known early day Taos Indian trader, forest ranger and painter who, without any training, did some remarkable New Mexican genre and landscape paintings and was, as Leon Gaspard called him, one of the finest colorists of the period; he was, apparently, also held in high esteem by Fechin and other contemporaneous artists of the colony.

Meyers grew up in Denver, where he appeared to have been heavily influenced by a number of prominent Western artists and frontier personalities, sufficiently so, that after numerous visits to the Southwest soon after the turn of the century, he moved to Taos in 1909 and took a job as a fire guard on Taos land. He forged enduring friendships with the Indians, and opened a trading post in 1912. His first exhibition was at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe in 1917.

Meyers was immortalized as the Indian trader Rodolfo Beyers in Frank Waters' book on early day Taos, "The Man Who Killed the Deer."

[This information came principally from Dawdy, Doris Ostrander, Artist of the American West, Vol. II, as represented on a commercial Website, .

Biography from David Cook Galleries
Ralph Meyers was an Indian trader, forest ranger, photographer, and painter in Taos, New Mexico.  He is best known for his New Mexican landscapes.  Meyers grew up in Denver, where he was heavily influenced by Western artists.  He moved to Taos in 1909, and soon began forming friendships with Native Americans and local artists.  Meyers began dealing in Indian artifacts and paintings around 1910.

Aside from painting oils on canvas, Meyers photographed the Taos landscape and Indians.  He sold these photographs as postcards, making him the first artist to sell his work through a retail outlet in Taos.  Meyers also sold paintings by other Taos artists in his shop.

Meyers' work was included in an exhibition of Southwestern art at the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe on November 24, 1917.  His work was displayed alongside the works of renowned Taos artists, including E. Martin Hennings, Joseph Henry Sharp, Mary Ufer, Walter Ufer, Herbert Dunton, and Victor Higgins.

Further Reading:

Porter, Dean A., Teresa Hayes Ebie, and Suzan Campbell. Taos Artists and Their Patrons, 1898-1950. Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, 1999.

Biography from Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Ralph Meyers was an American artist who was born in Houghton, Michigan on May 15, 1885.  Meyers lived in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, until the early 1920s.  Meyers had only a third grade education and was a self-taught artist and craftsman.  He settled in Taos, New Mexico, until his death in 1948. 

Meyers' son, Ouray Meyers, is a contemporary painter who lives in Taos and has a gallery named Spirit Runner.  Ouray relates that his father was regarded mostly as a trader; he did a lot of different things—mastered them and then moved on.  He made furniture and jewelry, and was not recognized as an artist until after his death.  The government hired him to teach the Navajos silversmithing.

The artwork of Meyers is in the collection of Harwood Foundation in Taos (where one painting was stolen) and Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas.  The Smithsonian has some of the jewelry and carvings that Meyers traded during his life (no credit to Meyers is given).  The Philbrook Museum did an exhibition of the carvings of Meyers several years ago.   

Ralph Meyers served as the model for the trader in Frank Waters' classic novel The Man Who Killed the Deer.  His widow still runs El Rincon Trading Post in Taos.


Dawdy, Doris Ostrander.  Artists of the American West:  A Biographical Dictionary.  [1974] 3 vols.  Chicago: Swallow Press.  1985.

Falk, Peter Hastings.  Who Was Who in American Art.  Connecticut: Sound View Press.  1985.  

Melton, Howard, E.  Melton Art Reference Library.  Oklahoma City: Howard Eugene Melton.  1993.

Personal Communication.  Ouray Meyers.  505-758-1132.  3-99.

Personal Communication.  David Witt. Harwood Foundation; Taos, New Mexico; 505-758-9826.  3-99.




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About  Ralph Waldo Emerson Meyers

Born:  1885 - Houghton, Michigan,
Died:   1948 - Taos, New Mexico
Known for:  Landscape and Indian paintings, photography, art dealer

Essays referring to
Ralph Waldo Emerson Meyers

Taos pre-1940