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Guide to the Edward Borein Photograph

Edward Borein CollectionEdward Borein Photograph, 1900s
1 folder
Collection SMS006
Accession 1984.009


John Edward Borein
“I will leave only an accurate picture of the West, nothing else but that. If anything isn’t authentic or just right, I won’t put it in any of my work.” – Edward Borein

“Born in 1872 in San Leandro, California, Edward Borein became one of the most popular artists of western scene painting, equally adept at ink drawing, watercolor, and etching.

He was raised in San Leandro, a western cow town, in a family where his father was a county politician. Edward had many childhood memories of herded cattle and their cowboys, which he began sketching at the age of five. He was educated in the Oakland, California schools, and at the age of 17 began working on a ranch near Oakland and then drifted and sketched as a working cowboy throughout the Southwest, Mexico, and Guatemala.

It was said that he practiced his art on anything he could find from bunkhouse walls to scraps of paper. At age 19, he enrolled at the San Francisco Art School, his only formal art training, and there he met Jimmy Swinnerton and Maynard Dixon who encouraged him in his art career.

The first person to purchase his work was Charles Lummis, editor of The Land and Sunshine magazine in California, and the two became life-long friends. Borein and Lucille Maxwell were married in the Lummis home. Borein, a typical westerner in dress and manner, also became close friends with artist Charles Russell, actor Will Rogers, and President Theodore Roosevelt. Borein often traveled north to visit Russell in Great Falls, Montana, and to travel among Indian tribes.

In 1899, Borein visited Arizona while returning from Mexico. By 1902, he was a successful illustrator in San Francisco for the San Francisco Call, and in 1907 he went to New York to learn etching techniques to enhance his illustration skills. There he enrolled in the Art Students League and was a student of Child Hassam. In the theatre district, he opened a studio that became a gathering place for 'lonesome' westerners such as Charles Russell, Will Rogers, Olaf Seltzer, and Oscar Borg. But Borein did not feel at home in New York, so he moved to Santa Barbara, California, in 1921.

This was a final move. He and his wife built a Hopi-style home, and also turned increasingly from oil to watercolor painting. He taught at the Santa Barbara School of the Arts until his death in 1945. "On occasion Borein would decorate place cards for dinners with small watercolor sketches of cowboys, vaqueros, Indians and bucking horses" (Santa Fe Auction). From his studio, which again attracted many of his friends, he depicted Indians, cowboys, and California ranch life.

Note: Edward Borein's birth date is often given as 1873. Harold Davidson uses the 1872 date, based on a birth notice in a California paper.”

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Santa Fe Art Auction catalogue, 10/2001

The above biography was written by Sarah E. Boehme, The John S. Bugas Curator, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Posted on AskArt.com.

“Biography: Edward Borein (1872-1945).” Medicine Man Gallery. Website. http://www.medicinemangallery.com/bio/EdwardBorein.lasso
Grauer, Michael R. “Edward Borein's Life and Work: A California Cowboy Paints the West” Southwest Art, May 1999. Reprinted on Medicine Man Gallery. Website. http://www.medicinemangallery.com/bio/EdwardBoreinSW.lasso

Scope & Content Note  

This collection contains one copy of a portrait photograph of Ed Borein.

Subject Terms  

Personal Names:
Borein, Edward, 1872-1945

Subject Headings:

Processing Information  

This collection was accessioned in 1984. The scope and content note was written by librarian Karen Spilman in March 2003. The current finding aid was written and posted online by archivist/librarian Laura Anne Heller in November 2009.

Ownership & Literary Rights  

The Edward Borein Collection is the property of the Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Literary right, including copyright, belongs to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, with the exception of copyrighted artwork images and published literary works, which are the property of the respective copyright holders. It is the responsibility of the researcher, and his/her publisher, to obtain publishing permission from individuals pictured, relevant copyright holders, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Restrictions on Access  

The collection is open for research. It is advisable for researchers to discuss their proposed research with staff prior to visiting the Center.

Preferred Citation  

Edward Borein Photograph, Box ##, Folder ##, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Container List  

Series 1: Edward Borein Collection
Photographs have been cataloged in the Image Archive Database, but none have been scanned yet.
Box/Folder # Accession # Folder Title/Description
1/6 1984.009.11 Ed Borein, Jalioco, Mexico. 1900 ca. Copy. Photograph, b&w, 5x3.5 in.
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