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Edward Borein

Birth place or City of origin: San Leandro
State of origin: CA
Last known City: Santa Barbara
Last known State: CA
Start/Birth date: 1872
Death/End date: 1945

One of America's most distinguished artists, Borein was born in San Leandro. He left school at 17 to work with a saddle maker then as a cowboy. After a short stint in art School, Borein hired on as a cowboy in Santa Barbara, Malibu, then Mexico, constantly sketching and occasionally traveling with his friend Maynard Dixon. In 1904, he settled in Oakland, painting in oils and watercolors, and sculpting. He augmented his income as an illustrator for the great magazines of the day: Harper’s, Collier’s, Sunset, Century and Western World. He became one of the most popular artists in America, gaining national fame and associating with the likes of Charles Russell, James Swinnerton, Maynard Dixon, Will Rogers, Will James, Olaf Seltzer, Carl Oscar Borg, and western celebrities including Will Rogers and Leo Carrillo. Borein produced a large number of etchings that were very popular. In 1921, Borein married and settled in Santa Barbara where he lived for the rest of his life. He was called the “cowpuncher artist” and throughout his life he lived the part, always wearing the colorful outfit of the cowboy. He died in Santa Barbara on May 19, 1945 at the age of 72. Today his work can be found in the most important Western Americana museums and collections in the world.

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Edward Borein was born in the small cow town of San Leandro, California and quickly earned a reputation as a skilled artist as he traveled throughout the west documenting daily life he witnessed on odd jobs as a cowboy. In particular, Borein found a wealth of inspiration on trips through Mexico in the late 1890s, a period in which the artist first began experimenting with watercolor.

Borein continued to travel frequently and settled in New York for several years where he became a proficient printmaker having studied at the Art Student's League. It was during this time he became a close friend of Charles Marion Russell, as well as made lasting acquaintances with Thomas Moran, Carl Oscar Borg, and Frank Tenney Johnson. This exposure brought Borein's work to a broader collecting audience who found in his unique work an intimate and authentic view of life on the Plains that further demonstrated a reverence for the Native American subject. "...For a self-taught artist in this most demanding of mediums, Borein achieved wonders. He can claim his rightful place among the pioneer watercolorists of the West." (H.G. Davidson, Edward Borein: Cowboy Artist, exhibition catalogue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000, p. 15)

 

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