William R. Leigh
1866 - 1955
William R. Leigh was born in West Virginia to impoverished Southern aristocrats, a year after the Civiil War. He began his art training at the Maryland Institute when he was 14-years-old, and continued his studies at the Royal Academy in Munich. After returning to the United States, Leigh worked as a magazine illustrator in New York. In 1906, he made a fateful agreement with the Santa Fe Railway advertising manager, William Simpson, to paint the Grand Canyon in exchange for transportation west. Leigh visited his former Munich classmate, Albert Groll, in Laguna, New Mexico, where he found true inspiration painting genre scenes and landscapes.
Leigh is well-known for his paintings of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park, but his real interest was portraying the people of the West: cowboys, miners, frontiersman, and especially Native Americans. Leigh’s mother’s ancestral line included the Native American Princess, Pocahontas, and his knowledge of this legacy inspired his work depicting the Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni tribes.
In the 1940’s, Leigh began to receive widespread recognition for his paintings, earning the nickname “Sagebrush Rembrandt." Today, he is lauded as one of the foremost painters of the American West, and his work can be seen in numerous prestigious collections, such as the Gilcrease Museum, the Huntington Museum, and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Actively seeking works by William R. Leigh