Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

W. H. D. Koerner (1878-1938)
W. H. D. Koerner or William Henry David Koerner was born in Lunden, Germany, in 1878 and died in Interlaken, New Jersey, in 1938. Koerner was brought to Clinton, Iowa, in 1880. In 1896, he was hired by the Chicago Tribune as a staff artist at five dollars a week, sketching spot news. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and the Francis Smith Art Academy. In 1904, he was art editor of a literary magazine in Battle Creek, Michigan. From 1905 to 1907, Koerner studied at the Art Students League in New York City. In 1907, he moved to Wilmington, Delaware, working as an illustrator while the pupil of Howard Pyle until 1911, along with N. C. Wyeth and Harvey Dunn. By the 1920's, he was one of the best known magazine and book illustrators. His study with Frank Breckenridge had provided the use of "broken color," a "commercial impressionism." His palette became full and vibrant. In 1922, Koerner was given the commission to illustrate Emerson Hough's, "The Covered Wagon," published serially by The Saturday Evening Post. By 1924, he was spending his summers in a log cabin near the Crow Indian Reservation in southern Montana. He also visited California and the Southwest. Koerner became truly the "illustrator of the Western myth, of symbols of an earlier less complicated, infinitely more moral land of ample time and room to roam." He received $1,000.00 for cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post. His painting garb was a smock over his knickers and golf socks with saddle shoes. After his death, hundreds of paintings were in his studio, along with drawings, sketchbooks, and artifacts. His widow kept the studio intact until 1962, when exhibitions demonstrated that Koerner had been an important Western painter.
View high resolution images of works by W. H. D. Koerner when available.