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William Gollings

(1878 - 1932)

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Biography

Born in Pierce City, Idaho, in 1878, Bill Gollings spent his early years on farms in Idaho, Michigan, and New York. His family moved to Chicago in 1889, but preferring life in the West, Gollings left home at the age of 18 and traveled through Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana, making his way as a cowboy, trapper, sheepherder, and gold prospector. Influenced by the magazine illustrations of Frederic Remington, Gollings began to focus on a career in the arts, and in 1903 he sent a mail order to Montgomery Wards to obtain his first oil painting materials. 
 
Acting as Gollings’ agent, the artist's brother sold Bill’s first paintings to a furniture storeowner in Sheridan, Wyoming. His brother also sent pictures to the editor of the Chicago Fine Arts Journal. At the suggestion of the editor, Gollings made his way to Chicago, where, in 1905, he used the proceeds from some painting sales to enroll at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. When his finances eventually gave out, Gollings moved back to Sheridan, where he continued painting and breaking horses to make his living. The last of his fulltime "cowboy" jobs was working for the government as a line rider on the Cheyenne Reservation. In 1909, determined to establish his reputation as an artist, he "built a shack and called it a studio," and devoted himself to painting scenes of the Western life that he knew so well. Gollings' primary influences were Howard Russell Butler, William P. Henderson, Charles M. Russell, W.H.D. Koerner, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Frederic Remington.