Henry Arthur Elkins (American, 1847-1884)
Artists Falls Near North Conway, New Hampshire
Oil on canvas, signed lower right and located on the reverse.
Provenance: from the Collection of a direct descendant (for other paintings from this collection , type "Elkins" into the search box)
Painting size: 16” x 10”
Frame size: 21.25” x 15.25”
Born in Vershire, VT, Elkins moved to Chicago in 1856 and it was in the midwest that he gained his reputation as a painter of mountain scenes of California and Colorado. He began painting at a young age and although there is some information indicating that he may have studied briefly with Albert Bierstadt, he was primarily self-taught.
In 1866, at the age of 19, Elkins formed a party which included Chicago artists James Gookins and Henry Chapman Ford to travel across the plains to the Rocky Mountain parks by wagon. West of the Missouri River, they joined an immigrant train for protection through Indian country on their way to Denver. The only danger they encountered though was a tornado which toppled their wagons and collapsed their tents near Cottonwood, Nebraska. In 1867, Western paintings by the three artists were on exhibit in Chicago. Gookins, Ford and Elkins became known as Chicago’s leading artists in panoramic mountain views, reflecting the influence of Albert Bierstadt’s style and substance. The lure of the West brought Elkins back numerous times for landscape work in both Colorado and California, executing such works as "Storm on Mount Shasta", "Elk Park Colorado", and "The Crown of the Continent".
Elkins’ artistic career was short but very successful. His work was frequently the subject of positive reviews in the Denver and Chicago newspapers. In 1872, after three years of work, Elkins completed his monumental painting, "Mt. Shasta.” 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, "Mount Shasta" was sold for the unheard of price of $15,000. 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. Many years later "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 YMCA and in an old people's home in Elgin, Illinois, where they were donated by a purchaser who had not known they were stolen.
Elkins work is found in numerous museum collections including the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, the Delaware Art Museum and the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center.
Elkins is listed in "Artists in California: 1786-1940" by Hughes, "Who Was Who in American Art" by Falk, "Art Across America" (Vols. 2&3) by Gerdts , "Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West" by Samuels, and others