NOTE: If you are selling a painting or reproduction by Robert Lindneux you may use this short biography written by Christina Smith. We would appreciate the courtesy of letting us know you are using this by sending us an email. (Click on the word email for a link to our email address.)
According to his memoir, Robert Ottokar Lindneux was born in New York City in 1871. Demonstrating a talent for art at a young age he traveled to Europe and attended the Art Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany; the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France; and the Munich Academy. In 1889 Lindneux saw the Buffalo Bill Wild West show in Paris; this was a pivotal experience that sparked his passion for the American West. Lindneux returned to America in 1898 and worked his way west to Montana. He worked as a trapper, horse wrangler and cowboy, learning about the life he wanted to paint. Settling in Denver, Colorado in 1918 Lindneux embarked upon a prolific career. Lindneux died in 1970. Lindneux’s best known works are the life size portrait of Buffalo Bill at the Buffalo Bill Museum on Lookout Mountain near Denver, Colorado and Trail of Tears on display at the Frank Phillips Woolaroc Museum, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The Colorado History Museum houses several of Lindneux’s significant historical works including Sand Creek Massacre.
YOU MUST ASK PERMISSION TO USE THIS BIOGRAPHY
This long biography was written by Christina Smith and is based on the memoir of Robert Lindneux owned by Lindneux’s family and heirs. Copyright 2014 – contact Christina Smith for permission to use by emailing her here.
Biography of Robert Ottokar Lindneux:
According to his memoir, Robert Ottokar Lindneux was born in New York City in 1871. His father was a silk buyer whose family had immigrated to Switzerland from France; and his mother was born in France. The family came to America in the 1860’s eventually settling in New York City. Robert’s parents died when he was very young and Robert was raised by his Aunt Lucile who taught languages such as French, German and English. Lucille of course taught Robert these languages. Robert demonstrated a talent for art early, so to encourage this skill, his Aunt Lucille hired a private teacher for him.
When Lindneux was sixteen his Aunt Lucille arranged for Robert to travel to Germany to further his art training at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany under the tutelage of German genre painter Benjamin Vautier. While in Germany in 1889, Robert heard that the Buffalo Bill Wild West show was going to be in Paris and borrowed some money from a friend to travel there to see it. This show was a pivotal moment in Robert’s life and he knew from that point on that he wanted to paint images of the American Wild West.
Robert finished his studies at the Art Academy and encouraged by Vautier continued his studies by taking classes at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris from 1890 to 1892. During this time Robert also studied with Hungarian painter Michael von Munkacsy until 1893. In 1894 Lindneux applied to the Munich Academy and was accepted into Franz Stuck’s class and attended for one semester there. The next few years Robert spent traveling and working under various master artists in Berlin, Dresden, Vienna and Buda-Pest. He returned to Paris and in late 1897, and then drifted to London, England.
In 1898 Robert was urged to return to America and fight for his country in the Spanish American War. He worked his way across the Atlantic on a cattle boat. Upon arriving in New York he discovered that the war was over. He drifted to Boston where he earned some money painting portraits. Then in 1899 he traveled to Denver in hopes of finding the West he had seen portrayed in the Buffalo Bill show. However, Denver was too civilized and so he traveled to Billings, Montana and indeed found the remnants of the Western way of life. He spent the next few years living and learning about the life he wanted to paint working as a trapper, horse wrangler and cowboy.
During this time Lindneux met up with the well known cowboy artist Charlie Russell. At one meeting in 1904 at Russell’s log cabin in Great Falls, the two men discussed coloring techniques. To demonstrate his technique to Charlie, Robert had Charlie sketch out a familiar image, which Robert then painted. In a later conversation Charlie suggested that Robert might be able to find a good market for his paintings back in New York City. Robert took this advice to heart and moved to Brooklyn, New York.
New York did not end up being the boon he had hoped for though, and Robert ended up having to do commercial art work to make ends meet. In 1908 Robert went to the Pawnee Bill’s Wild West and Far East Show and was introduced to Major Gordon W. Lillie. This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two men. In 1912 Robert had the opportunity to attend the consolidated Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill Wild West show. Robert looked up his friend Pawnee Bill who introduced him to William (Buffalo Bill) Cody. Robert asked if he could paint a sketch of Cody, which Cody gladly said yes to. The next day Cody sat for Lindneux again and Lindneux finished his first portrait of his lifelong hero.
By 1915 rumors of war had greatly diminished Robert’s income stream so he headed back to Billings, Montana working as a horse wrangler and occasionally doing some painting. During this time Robert also began taking photographs of various frontier and rodeo events, and would put these photos into sets and sell them to tourists.
In 1916 Robert married his wife Gertrude, (whom he had met while in New York) and in 1917 they moved to Wyoming. During this time Robert learned that the Cody family, (after the death of William Cody) was negotiating to sell the T E Ranch and Robert was offered the opportunity to help with the work of rounding up the cattle and horses. After this he also found work as an assistant guide for a two dude hunters from the Eastern US.
Robert and his wife moved to Denver, Colorado in 1918. In 1921 their only daughter Marcella Roberta Lindneux was born. In Denver Robert solidified his standing as an exceptional Western American Artist and was often referred to as the historian of the west. Colorado remained their home until Lindneux’s death on October 24, 1970. This synopsis covers a fraction of Lindneux’s adventures and the unique individuals that he met in his lifetime.
The strongest influence on Lindneux’s style and technique clearly comes from the Dusseldorf school. His paintings have clear, precise color, utilize dramatic, sometimes staged elements, and were always created using the same disciplined procedures as taught by the German masters. Lindneux also developed his own distinctive atmospheric effects used to represent the vast Western American vistas.
Lindneux’s subjects varied tremendously, though the American west and history were his primary focal points. His portraits include many historical figures, Native Americans, and animals. Many of his portraits incorporate background elements representing significant events and locations related to the subject, adding depth of understanding and historical insight. His best known portrait is the life size equestrian painting of Buffalo Bill on his favorite horse Isham on display at the Buffalo Bill Museum and grave on Lookout Mountain near Denver, Colorado.
His other subjects ranged from the dramatic to the serene in landscapes, many Western and Native American life scenes, dramatic and significant historical events, and several extraordinary allegorical works. Lindneux strayed from his pure realistic style with only two paintings, Modernistic Conception of The Grand Canyon and Modernistic Conception of Moose Lake, both owned by the Colorado History museum. The Colorado History museum also houses the Sand Creek Massacre, Beecher Island, Thornburg Massacre, Fort Lyon, one of Lindneux’s allegories, Death the Victor, and others. The Frank Phillips Woolaroc Museum has many Lindneux paintings including his well recognized Trail of Tears and many portraits including Sitting Bull, Pocahontas, Christopher Columbus, General Custer, and others. Many of his paintings are in private collections.
This is not yet an exhaustive bibliography, but it does list the majority of sources about or relating to Robert Lindneux that you might find interesting.
Art Digest, The. “Lindneux’s ‘Death the Victor,’ and Symbolism That Will Not Die” 9 no. 1 (1 October 1934): 8.
Chandler, Mary Voelz. “Robert O. Lindneux at Home on the Range.” Denver Co. Rocky Mountain News, Sunday, 17 November 1991, final edition, Sunday Magazine/Travel section, 12M.
Dial, Scott E. “Robert Ottokar Lindneux, 1871-1970.” Southwest Art, April 1976, 40-47.
Forrest, James Taylor. “Robert Ottokar Lindneux: The Last of the Cowboy Artists.” Great Plains Journal 6:1 (fall 1966): 32-35.
Halaas, David Fridtjof. “Robert Lindneux: Western History, Patriotism, and Art.” Colorado History Now (November 1998): 3.
Hedren, Paul L. “The Contradictory Legacies of Buffalo Bill Cody’s First Scalp for Custer.” Montana: The Magazine of Western History , Vol. 55, No. 1 (Spring, 2005), pp. 16-35
Rocky Mt. News, “Denver Artist Will Paint 32 Most Famous Indians,” Sunday, 3 September 1933, Main News Section, 6.
Spring, Agnes Wright, “Rosa Bonheur and Buffalo Bill,” The Western Horseman, April, 1962.
Wolf, Mark. “Historian Calls West Cradle of U.S.” Denver Co. Rocky Mountain News, 2 November 2000, final edition, Lifestyles/Spotlight section, 3D.
Carr, James F., comp. Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers: With Addendum Containing Corrections and Additional Material on the Original Entries. New York: James F. Carr, 1965. 217.
Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago: Sage Books Chicago, 1974. 145.
Falk, Peter Hastings, editor-in-chief. Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Vol. 2. Madison: Sound View Press. 1999. 2030.
Fielding, Mantel. Dictionary of American Painters Sculptors & Engravers: From Colonial Times through 1926. Flushing: Paul A. Stroock, 1960. 217.
Friesen, Steve. Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary. Golden, Colo: Fulcrum Pub., 2010. 78, 154.
Harmsen, Dorothy. Western Americana. Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1971. 128.
Opitz, Glenn B., ed. Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers. 2nd ed. Poughkeepsie: Apollo, 1987. 544.
Young, William ed. and comp. A Dictionary of American Artists, Sculptors and Engravers: From the Beginnings through the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: William Young and Co., 1968. 286.
Lindneux, Robert. “Robert Ottokar Lindneux Interview, 1964 Nov. 14.” Interviewed by Sylvia Loomis. Sound tape reel transcript, Denver CO, 14 November 1964. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Oral History Collection.
Lindneux, Robert. 2002/1949. Oral history interview of Robert Lindneux. Denver, Colo: Colorado Historical Society.
Amon Carter Museum. Catalogue of the Collection 1972. Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1973. 52.
Lindneux, Robert. Pictures of the Great West: Catalogue of The Lindneux Art Publishing Co. Lindneux Art Publishing co., Denver CO. 1923.
Patterson, Patrick. Woolaroc Museum. The Frank Phillips Foundation, Inc., 1965. 30, 31, 40, 46, 50, 52, 53.
Sotheby Parke Bernet. Exhibition by Robert Ottokar Lindneux from the Estate of Ben E. Bond, Tulsa. Public Auction Monday, March 4, 1974, Lo Angeles.