Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Herman W. Hansen (1854-1924)
Herman W. Hansen or Henry Wendelborg Hansen was born in Dithmarschen, Germany in 1854 and died in Oakland, California in 1924. Hansen's father, a draftsman, sent him to Hamburg, Germany when he was sixteen to study under Simmonsen, a painter of battle scenes. In 1876, he studied in England for a year, then emigrated to New York City. He worked as a commercial artist there and in Chicago where the railroad in 1879 commissioned three paintings, one of a locomotive in the Dakotas. This was Hansen's first Western experience. In 1882, after further study at the Art Institute of Chicago, he went to California, making San Francisco his permanent home. Hansen made frequent summer sketching trips in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico, accumulating the data for his historically accurate and realistic portrayals. His most famous painting, "The Pony Express" was completed in 1900 and was widely reproduced. In 1903, he spent the summer at the Crow Agency in Montana. From 1906 on, Hansen's paintings were all sold each year, mainly in the East and in Europe. Unlike his contemporary Remington, he was not an illustrator, although he did concentrate on genre relating to the horse and rider, professionally depicting a story or an incident. By 1908, the living West had passed him by , as "Tucson is killed from my point of view. They have shut down all the gambling houses tight, and not a gun in sight. Why the place hasn't the pictorial value of a copper cent any longer."
View high resolution images of works by Herman W. Hansen when available.