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Howard A. Terpning (American)


Birth Place: Oak Park, Illinois


Who is painter Howard Terpning?

Howard Terpning is a painter and commercial illustrator who is best known for his realist paintings of Native Americans of the American West. His work intersects the commercial and fine art worlds in meaningful ways that few other artists have been able to navigate. Almost exclusively a commercial illustrator until the mid-1970s, a move to Arizona shaped the second half of Terpning’s career.

Terpning is still a prolific artist, known to keep a painting schedule working all day, six days a week in his home studio attached to his home. That drive has served him well, critically and commercially. He has now been recognized as one of the finest artists specializing in the American West, with several awards and memberships to prestigious institutions. These memberships include The Cowboy Artists of America and the National Academy of Western Art. He continues to work to this day.

What kind of art does Howard Terpning make?

Howard Terpning makes realist paintings and illustrations, typically focusing on the American West and the Native Americans that inhabit the region. Originally almost exclusively an illustrator, Terpning’s work is featured on many prominent films from the mid 20th century. Some of his most famous include The Sound of Music, Cleopatra, and The Guns of Navarone. He has also worked for prestigious publications like Time, Newsweek, and The Reader’s Digest. These seemingly disparate assignments are a credit to the artisanship of a Terpning piece. While there is an obvious commercial application, the technical skill and insight into humanity are what sets Terpning apart from so many of his peers. He has an extraordinary talent, represented in his beautiful palettes and bold, confident brushstrokes, but his greatest talent is his ability to evoke emotions from his viewer.

How did painter Howard Terpning get started?

Howard Terpning was born to a humble family in Oak Park, Illinois. Growing up in the Midwest to a railroad worker and an interior decorator. His father’s job forced the family to travel often, and as such Terpning grew up living in Iowa, Missouri, and Texas. From an early age, Terpning was a prolific drawer, but it would be a summer spent in Durango at age 15 that would give him the subject of his life’s work -- the Native Americans of the American West. His art career would have to wait. At 17, Terpning enlightened in the Marines and served for nine months in China. Upon his return, he studied first at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, then the American Academy of Art in Chicago. His work under Haddon Sundblom led to commercial work and started the young illustrator on a career that would span nearly seven decades.

How much are Howard Terpning paintings worth?

Howard Terpning has an extensive history at auction, his pieces sell between $30,000 on the low end and can sell for as much as 1.5 million or more on the high end. The most ever paid for a Howard Terpning painting is $1,934,000 for the piece Captured Ponies (1977) on March 21st, 2012. It outperformed its high estimate by over three times its projected sale. This could potentially mean that the market for a Terpning piece is even stronger than what many initially thought. Terpning paintings are appealing to both fans of commercial and fine art and represent a significant addition to any collection.

Where to buy Howard Terpning paintings for sale?

See the works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Howard Terpning paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.

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