Edward Borein

(1872 - 1945)

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John Edward Borein was the oldest of five children, born into a politically inclined family in San Leandro, then a Western cow town on the main northern California cattle trail not far from Oakland.  The constant stream of cattle and 'vaqueros' moving through his hometown had a powerful effect on the young Borein, who began to sketch these men and animals when he was but five years old.  Borein's artistic bent was encouraged by his family, and after grade school he briefly enrolled at the San Francisco Art Association School, leaving to become a working cowboy himself.  For several years, the artist combined the two occupations, becoming a skilled and prolific sketcher of the Old West and its life.  A move to New York in 1907 helped to cement his reputation as an artist.

It was during his time in New York that Borein turned to etching, becoming well established in this medium by the time of his return to the West in 1919.  A close friend of Charlie Russell, he often travelled north from his Oakland studio to visit him in Great Falls, Montana, and to journey among various Indian tribes.  After his marriage in 1921, Borein and his wife moved to Santa Barbara, where he concentrated more and more on watercolors.

Like his good friend Russell, Borein stands today as one of the most artistically gifted and intellectually honest chroniclers of the American West and a way of life that has now, unfortunately, passed almost completely away.