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Henry Arthur Elkins
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Ralph Petrozello who credits ART OF THE AMERICAN WEST by Dorothy Harmsen, a reference from a research librarian at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
Although Henry Elkins was born in Vershire, Vermont, he became known in the Middle West for his paintings of Colorado and California and spent most of his short life traveling and painting in the West.
Elkins was one of the artists who crossed the plains to the Rocky Mountains
after the Civil War. In the summer of 1866, H. C. Ford, J. F. Gookins, and Elkins, all living in Chicago, formed a party and started out from the Missouri River. On an adventurous trip to Denver, Colorado, they joined an emigrant train for protection through Indian country. Denver was then a city of 7,000. One of their harrowing experiences occurred when a tornado near Cottonwood Springs, Nebraska, toppled their wagons and collapsed their tents.
Elkins was greatly influenced by the great Albert Bierstadt, under whom he studied. While visiting Chicago Lakes near Georgetown, Colorado, Elkins
was with a party that included Bierstadt, when a storm arose. Bierstadt asked the group to wait while he made a sketch for his masterpiece, "A
Storm in the Rocky Mountains."
Elkins' landscapes were acclaimed by the early settlers of Denver. For some years the Denver newspapers reported on Elkins' work and the receptions
held in his honor by Denver society. Many times the Denver papers also reprinted accounts from the Chicago newspapers of Elkins' artistic endeavors in that city.
In 1872 Elkins completed his monumental painting, "Mt. Shasta," which took three years to accomplish. The picture was on exhibition in Vienna, when he leased a studio in Chicago to paint a companion piece, entitled "Sierra Madre." After being exhibited the world over, "Mt. Shasta" was sold for $15,000, an unheard of price at that time; it was later destroyed in the
Illinois Club fire.
Shortly after Elkins' death in Georgetown, Colorado, his most valuable works were stolen from his studio in Chicago. The search for the missing paintings was continued by his son, H. A. Elkins. "Sierra Madre" was discovered in a Chicago Loop saloon. The find rated headline coverage in Chicago newspapers.
Many of the other paintings were found in the Y.M.C.A. and in an old people's home in Elgin, Illinois, where they were donated by a purchaser who hadn't known they were stolen.