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Nick Eggenhofer

1897-1985

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Biography

Nick Eggenhofer was one of the last members of the generation of western artists who came to maturity in the years following the death of Remington and Russell.

Born in Bavaria, Eggenhofer maintained that his interest in the American West was kindled by exposure to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the popular literature of the West, which circulated in his native Germany.  He immigrated to America in 1913 and within three years enrolled in classes in New York City, where he studied to be a commercial artist and illustrator.  He absorbed all he could about the American West and in 1920, sold his first western illustrations to a popular magazine.

Five years later, after building a moderately successful career as an illustrator, Eggenhofer finally got the opportunity to see the region about which he had dreamed since his youth.  He loaded camping gear on a Model T Ford and drove overland to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  When he finally returned to the East, he built a log cabin in Milford, New Jersey, and decorated it with western memorabilia. He frequently approached a particular assignment by doing careful research in the New York libraries, and he was known to be a stickler for accurate detail as well as a recognized historian on some aspects of western history.

In addition to the lengthy research he often performed for a commission, Eggenhofer made scale models of some of his compositions in order to make them as accurate as possible.  This in itself was not new, since artists in the past had made such models, but it reflects the concern that many of these artists had for the ultimate accuracy of their vision. The artist often employed a very broad color range, often placing stich-like strokes of pure color side by side so as to create an animated effect.  Eggenhofer’s oft-repeated quotes about then necessity of telling a story in such works also bears a close relationship to Charles M. Russell’s example, and this work follow that approach with very satisfactory results.