Joe Scheuerle and His Remarkable Indian Gallery

Joseph G. Scheuerle (1873 - 1948) was a remarkable but little-known Western artist. Beginning in 1909 he made many visits to indian reservations in Montana and across the west where he painted exceptional portraits of American Indians that were, in his words, "all finished and done honestly and carefully from life and on the spot". In many cases, he provided notable documentation of the circumstances wherein the portraits were painted by including whimsical sketches and commentary on the reverse. Throughout his lifetime he created more than two hundred sillfully painted portraits, and established rapport and close friendships with his models.

Born in 1873 to German parents vacationing in Vienna, Austria, he and his family immigrated to the United States in 1882. They soon settled in Cincinnati where he was enrolled in a local school, but was unable to speak English. Consequently, his teachers placed him in the back of the classroom where he was free to indulge his passion for drawing and to daydream of the west.

Scheuerle attended the Cincinnati Art Academy from 1892 to 1896 where he became lifelong friends with fellow artists Joseph Henry Sharp and Henry F. Fanny. After leaving the Academy he became a commericial artist for the famous Strobridge Lithographing Company in Cincinnati. There, he produced numerous circus and "Wild West" posters, among other assignments.

In 1900 Scheuerle moved to Chicago to work for the National Printing Company where he had the opportunity to paint portraits of Indian performers traveling through the Windy City with the Buffalo Bill and the 101 Ranch Wild West shows. In 1904 he married Carolyn Lohrey; the couple had one daughter, Margaret Carolyn and Margaret accompanied Scheuerle on many of his painting trips out west.

In 1910 Louis Hill commissioned Scheuerle to travel to Montana to create promotional art for the Great Northern Railway's See America First campaign, which featured Glacier National Park and other western wonders. Scheuerle also created the Great Northern's iconic mountain goat trademark.

On one of his western sojourns, Scheuerle and Charles M. Russell became fast friends; they painted together and frequented reservations during festival times. While in Montana the Scheuerles were welcome guests at the Russells' Bull Head Lodge in Glacier National Park.

Scheuerle made his last trip to Montana in 1938. ten years later he suffered a fatal heart attack. He loved the portraits of his friends and was reluctant to sell them. Instead he kept them close, treasuring the memories they brought him.

While recognized by his friends and colleagues for his artistic skills, Scheuerle never received the acclaim given Russell and Sharp. Today, however, our knowledge of Plains Indian life is greatly enhanced by Scheuerle's exceptional art.

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Joe Scheuerle and His Remarkable Indian Gallery