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DescriptionJULIAN ONDERDONK (American, 1882-1922)
Coreopsis, Near San Antonio, Texas, 1919
Oil on canvas board
9-1/4 x 12-1/4 inches (23.5 x 31.1 cm)
Signed lower right: Julian Onderdonk
Titled, signed, and dated verso: Coreopsis- / near San Antonio, Texas- / -Julian Onderdonk- 1919
The life of the best-known Texas Impressionist, Julian Onderdonk, almost perfectly brackets the rise, practice, and decline of Impressionist painting in the United States. Following studies with his father, Robert Onderdonk, Julian Onderdonk began studying under William Merritt Chase in the Shinnecock Hills on Long Island in 1901. Chase provided the younger Onderdonk with the tools to paint the south-central Texas landscape in an Impressionist manner. Julian Onderdonk's landscapes inspired exhibitions of Texas wildflower paintings held in San Antonio from 1927 to 1929, and ultimately gave rise to the ubiquitous "Bluebonnet School," prevalent in Texas even today. Famous for his bluebonnet paintings, his paintings of coreopsis and other Texas wildflowers are often among his best.
Light surface grime overall; light craquelure (no flaking) in the field area and very minor craquelure in the trees on the far right; possible strengthening throughout sky region when examined under black light. Framed Dimensions 13.5 X 16.5 Inches
Onderdonk, Julian:Born and raised in San Antonio, Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922) spent his childhood exploring the South Texas hill country. His father, a painter, also instilled in his son an enthusiasm for sketching and drawing at a young age, and fortunately for Onderdonk, a wealth of possibilities were hiding in the vast landscape of his own backyard. At the turn of the century when he was 19 years old, Julian left Texas to study at the Art Students League under prominent artists Kenyon Cox, Frank DuMond and Robert Henri. He was also mentored by renowned American Impressionist William Merritt Chase, with whom his father also trained for a period of time. It was under this tutelage that Onderdonk’s style and vision as a young artist was truly cultivated. In 1902, Julian decided to settle down in New York City to pursue a career as a plein air artist, where he met his wife and soon after became a father. While his personal life flourished, his professional aspirations had not yet come to fruition. Accordingly, Onderdonk and his new family returned to San Antonio, to his natural element where the root of his inspiration was first cultivated, in 1909. Upon his return, Onderdonk stayed true to his heritage and maintained the tonalist style imparted by his father, but also continued to apply the principles and Impressionist approach taught by his mentor, William Chase. Best-known for his powerful interpretations of the Southwest landscape—with scores of bluebonnet fields, cactus and life oaks with Spanish moss, morning mist lifting into vibrant Texas skies and colors of the changing seasons—Julian Onderdonk’s work first became recognized locally and then, as his reputation as the “Bluebonnet Painter” grew, captivated a wider audience that spread across the country. His last paintings, Dawn in the Hills and Autumn Tapestry, among his most impressive, were on the way to New York for the annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design for 1922 at the time of his death.
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