Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Maynard Dixon (1875-1946)

Lafayette Maynard Dixon was born in Fresno, California in 1875 and died in Tucson, Arizona in 1946. Maynard Dixon was descended from Virginia aristocracy who had moved to the sandy flats of the San Joaquin Valley. Frail as a youth, he taught himself to draw. At sixteen, he sent sketches to Remington, receiving encouraging comment. H was led to attend the School of Design in San Francisco in 1891, but found the approach too formal. He became a cowpuncher, wandering over Arizona, New Mexico, and southeast California. His first job in art was in 1895 as a newspaper illustrator in San Francisco, sketching on the spot for crime and feature stories. He also became a key figure in the bohemian life. As his draftsmanship and sense of design improved, he did illustrations for magazines and books. When he was twenty three, his drawings were published in the Los Angeles magazine, Land of Sunshine. He made his first trip to New Mexico in 1900. In 1901, he and Edward Borein headed northwest on horseback. His sketches were sold to Harper's. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroyed Dixon's accumulated work, he moved to New York City as an illustrator. In 1909, he was again in the northwest, sketching Indians in Idaho and Nevada. When he returned to San Francisco, his studio was a central point for the Western art world. More of his time was devoted to easel painting, and by 1920 he was able to minimize illustration work. He was considered the leading desert painter, the most successful of the Westerners painting the Southwest. As a colorist, he was said to have been influenced by Maxfield Parrish in the blue of the lava ridges, but it is probably truer to say that Dixon painted the earth and sky colors he saw simplified as his style grew increasingly modern. In the 1930's, Dixon devoted his time to murals. He died of asthma after completing a mural of the Grand Canyon.

View high resolution images of works by Maynard Dixon when available.