art for everyone. every monday morning.

Edmund Osthaus • American: 1858-1928

Two Setters and a PointerOil on Canvas 26” x 36”

Mexican peasants gathered at the Veracruz docks as a brightly dressed European Archduke walked down the gangplank of a majestic sailing ship flying the flag of France. Archduke Maximilian had come at the direction of the Emperor Napolean III to rule over Mexico. Behind him was a well-appointed group of wealthy Europeans bent on living a life of noblesse oblige on the parched dirt of Mexico. Within 3 years Archduke Maximilian had been executed, his wife driven mad, and his courtly followers sent scurrying across the Rio Grande. The Osthaus family had arrived in America.

Edmund Osthaus was a grizzly, muscle-bound man who resembled Paul Bunyan, but he was a patrician artist who would not have been caught dead in a north woods lumber camp. Instead he spent his life both painting and partaking in aristocratic pursuits. His chosen companions were well-bred spaniels and retrievers rather than blue oxen. And rather than slashing his way through stands of timber he spent his days painting these dogs in a delicate but (ahem) manly style.  

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It’s unlikely that Edmund Osthaus ever pondered his role in the modernist revolution roiling the art world around him. He always remained loyal to the realistic style he developed as a young art student working under the watchful eye of Christian Kroner, a renowned German painter of animals and outdoor scenes.

In America, Osthaus taught in Toledo, Ohio, and was instrumental in establishing the Toledo Museum of Art. Meanwhile, his paintings of well-bred hunting dogs had gained national recognition and were sought out by wealthy collectors. His wealth from these paintings supported a life spent roaming his Ohio and Florida hunting lands in pursuit of the elusive bobwhite quail and always in the company of his award-winning dogs. It was a noble pursuit for a man born and bred to a privileged life. different angle. A man unsatisfied with conventional choices. By the time he died on the cusp of World War II, he had become an American Master, in both art and life.

Canton Museum of Art Permanent Collection • Anonymous Donor 77.82


4 Ways to Sound Smart When Viewing at The Canton Museum of Art

“Had he followed his father’s wishes, he wouldn’t have been an artist, but an architect. Umm, sorry dad, I’m going to paint dogs instead.”

“While studying art in Germany, his parents emigrated to Mexico and were nearly killed. Upon their escape they sent for their son to join them in the States.” 

“Osthaus was an entertaining dinner guest. He once sketched a dog’s head onto a tablecloth at a friend’s request. It was his last work as he died just days later.”

“The hunter has become the hunted, as an ‘Osthaus’ has proven to fetch a large sum at auction, with some sales reaching six figures.”


Osthaus Timeline. Scroll over images to see timeline.