Herman Wendelborg Hansen

Herman W. Hansen was a celebrated Taos illustrator and painter who was considered one of the earliest Wild West artist, capturing horses, cowboys and Western landscapes. Born in Dithmarschen, Denmark (now Germany) in 1854, Hansen showed artistic promise early in his life. At the age of sixteen, his father sent him to Hamburg to study under the battlefield artist, Simmonsen, but by the age of twenty-two, he moved to England to further his studies. Within a year, he became enticed by stories of the American West and immigrated to the United States to become a commercial illustrator in New York. He eventually moved to Chicago and attended the Art Institute of Chicago before being commissioned by the railroad in 1879 to create advertisement paintings of a trip out to the Dakotas. It was this trip that encouraged him to move further west and in 1882, he relocated to San Francisco where he met his wife, Olga Josue.

Over the next few summers, he began making trips down to the Southwest and plains, sketching and painting highly realistic scenes of horses, riders and western landscape. His unparalleled skill for capturing the movement of a horse in action landed him his first exhibition in 1901. Five years later, an earthquake and fire destroyed his studio so he relocated to Alameda, California, just east of San Francisco. Over the years, he and Olga had two sons, one of which was the famous Armin Hansen (1886 - 1957), a well-known marine artist and etcher. Herman Hansen remained in Alameda until his death in 1924 at the age of seventy, establishing himself as a highly skilled draftsman and lover of the Wild West.