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Edmund Henry Osthaus
(American, 1858 - 1928 )

Born in Germany in 1858, Edmund Osthaus studied painting at the Royal Academy in Dusseldorf and later with Christian Kroner, a wildlife and landscape painter. His father wanted him to become an architect, but agreed that if he did well at The Royal Academy, that he could pursue an artistic career. Osthaus and his father, a prosperous farmer, first traveled with the ill-fated Maximilian to Mexico in 1864. They were able to escape to America, then returning to Germany. His parents eventually emigrated to Toledo, Ohio, and Edmund joined his parents in 1883, at the age of 25. The young immigrant eventually became the chief instructor of the Toledo Academy of Fine Arts and from 1886 to 1893 he acted as their director.

In 1893, after just seven years in the position, Osthaus resigned as director of the Toledo Academy and devoted his life to painting, shooting and following field trials. It was during this time and for the remainder of his life that he became known for his paintings of sporting dogs, in particular pointers and setters.

He was a charter member of the National Field Trial Association formed at Newton, North Carolina in November of 1895, a frequent judge, he soon developed a life where he literally followed field trail activity across North America ending up in Florida during the winter. Speaking of his life in Florida, his son Franz stated in a letter to Kay and George Evans, “ I cannot help but think what an ideal arrangement Father was enjoying, painting every morning and shooting quail every afternoon with dear friends and over dogs he loved.”

Beginning with the fall prairie chicken trails in Canada, Osthaus would follow the action to the Southwest as it grew colder in Canada, eventually going down south for the winter. He maintained a shooting lodge at Marianna in Jackson county in Florida where he pursued bobwhites. He also regularly showed his own pointers and setters in both conformation shows and field trials. In the late 1880's and early 1890's, he was a partner with J.E. Dager in the Maumee Kennels in Toledo. He painted for some of the most prominent sportsmen of his day, including Hobart Ames of Boston, Pierre Lorillard of New York and Harry Edwards of Cleveland.

Like Tait and Landseer before him, his paintings were also reproduced as prints. He had painted the portrait of the winners of the National Field Trial Association for the first thirty years of its life, and they were reproduced as calendars and lithographs by the Du Pont company in the early 1900's. The series included portraits of every known field trial champion from the first, including Count Gladstone IV in 1896 through Manitoba Rap in 1910.

Edmund Osthaus loved his dogs, just as he admired the American hunting dog, saying that, “ the American hunting dog is lighter and speedier than the English... he can also carry a cold trail and work out an old trail better than the English dog.” His paintings, most often of English Setters and Pointers working in the field, are an extraordinary combination of acute anatomical observation, and an ability to capture the spirit of the dog. He painted from nature, making many sketches of the background. He posed the dogs for long periods of time, capturing their natures and characteristic expressions.

Osthaus’s work became well-known in the late 1890's and he soon was painting commissioned portraits for important sportsmen, as well as for his own gratification.


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