W. H. D. Koerner
W.H.D. Koerner was born in Lun, Germany, in 1878. When he was two years old, his family immigrated to America and settled in rural Iowa. At eighteen he ventured to Chicago, where luck and youthful bravado landed him a job in the art department of the Chicago Tribune. He studied at the Chicago Art Institute, the Francis Smith Art Academy and later in New York with George Bridgeman and Gutzon Borglum at the Art Students League. In 1907 Koerner was accepted into Howard Pyle's seminars for working commercial artists. Koerner attended these daily classes, held in Pyle's Wilmington, Delaware, studio alongside other notable illustrators including Harvey Dunn, Frank Schoonover and N.C. Wyeth.
The assignment to illustrate Emerson Hough's The Covered Wagon was a milestone in Koerner's career. Published serially by the Saturday Evening Post, this romantic novel of pioneers won for the artist the hearts of countless readers, the respect of his editors and the compliments of Hough, who wrote, upon seeing Koerner's Madonna of the Prairie "This is the first time in my career an artist has really pleased me with his work".
In 1917 Koerner established his own studio as an illustrator in Interlaken, New Jersey, to be nearer the New York and Philadelphia market for his paintings. Discontent with merely reading about the West, Koerner traveled west in 1924 to Cook City, Montana and to the Spear Ranch on the Crow Reservation. What he found there determined much of his later style.
Koerner's illustrations guided and delighted the imagination of millions of avid readers of popular fiction during the early decades of this century. His bold depictions of scenes from works by such writers as Mary Roberts Rinehart, Stewart Edward White, and Emerson Hough enlivened the pages of Collier's, Country Gentleman, Harper's, Ladies' Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post and many other magazines. His was a major role in what has been called the golden age of American Illustration.
Each detail in Koerner's paintings, whether in scenes depicting Indians, trappers, cavalrymen, or cowboys, has been researched in depth. These paintings may be taken as completely honest representations of the historic Old West.