Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, John Hauser was one of several early 20th-century Ohio artists known for paintings of Western Indians. His birth date is given as both 1858 and 1859. He is given credit for doing much to educate Americans about the culture of frontier Indians, including Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, and Sioux. He also did a series of portraits of Indian chiefs such as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Spotted Tail and Lone Bear.
Hauser was the son of a German cabinet maker and showed early aptitude for art. Before age 15, he studied at the Ohio Mechanic's Institute and at the Cincinnati Art Academy, and he later studied with Thomas Noble at the McMicken Art School. In 1880, he enrolled in the Munich Royal Academy of Fine Arts as a student of Nicholas Gysis and then did further study in Dusseldorf and Paris, staying in Europe until 1891.
He taught drawing in the Cincinnati public schools, and in 1891, the same year he accepted that teaching assignment, he traveled to Arizona and New Mexico where he was captivated by the scenery and Indians. After this initial trip, he continued to make yearly visits to reservations where he did highly realistic depictions of Indian figures, genre, and animals.
He did many portraits of famed Indian chiefs including Lone Bear, Spotted Tail, and High Horse. His love and sympathy for the Indians was recognized in 1901 when he and his wife were adopted into the Sioux nation, and he was given the name "Straight White Shield" and his wife was named "Bring Us Sweets."
His last work was a mural titled Perry's Victory for the Cincinnati Yacht Club, of which he was one of the founders.
During his travels, he accumulated a huge collection of Indian artifacts and artworks, and most of these pieces he donated to the Cincinnati Art Museum before he died in 1913.
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