Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Edgar Samuel Paxson

Edgar Samuel Paxson was born in East Hamburg, New York in 1852 and died in Missoula, Montana in 1919. Paxson was an important pioneer Montana painter, illustrator, muralist specializing in Indian and settleer life. Paxson was educated in a log school house with one year at Friends' Institute in East Hamburg, Germany. He became his father's helper as a sign painter and decorator. In 1877, the year after the Custer battle, he went to Montana, leaving his wife and child in Buffalo, New York. He worked at odd jobs in Montana, on a cattle ranch, as a meat hunter, as a dispatch rider, as a stage driver, and as a scout in the Nez Perce war of 1877 to 1878. In 1879, he brought his family to Deer Lodge, where he began to paint in oil while working as a commercial artist, painting signs, decorating saloons and theater sets. In 1881, he moved to Butte where there was more demand for his services. He served in the Montana National Guard for ten years, spending eight months in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. In 1905, he settled in Missoula. His most famous painting was "Custers Last Battle on the Little Big Horn." The image of the painting was six feet high by ten feet long and took six to eight years to paint. It was nationally exhibited, producing recognition for Paxson, although his small watercolors were considered more successful artistically. His dress and grooming were in the frontier style, with long hair, full mustache, and pointed goatee.

View high resolution images of works by Edgar Samuel Paxson when available.