Frank Reaugh

Frank Reaugh

FRANK REAUGH (1860–1945)

Charles Franklin (Frank) Reaugh, artist, son of George Washington and Clarinda Morton (Spilman) Reaugh, was born near Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois, on December 29, 1860. The family's original Irish name, Castlereaugh, was shortened to Reaugh and pronounced "Ray." In 1876 Frank and his parents moved to Kaufman County, Texas, and settled near Terrell. Encouraged by his mother, Reaugh became aware of the writings of naturalists Louis Agassiz and John Burroughs and began sketching for amusement at an early age. His subjects were the open rangeland that surrounded the family homestead and the free-roaming longhorn cattle found there. He also used the family's team of oxen, Tom and Jerry, as models for detailed anatomy studies. He painted some 7,000 works. Reaugh's first formal art education came in the winter of 1884–85, when he attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts. He subsequently taught art classes and saved enough money to attend the Académie Julian in Paris during the winter of 1888–89. That year he visited the Exposition Universelle in Paris. The works of Anton Mauve impressed Reaugh during his stay in Europe. He went to Holland, probably to see Mauve's work and that of others of the "Hague School" in galleries there. He returned to Texas in the summer of 1889 and immediately set out on a sketching trip.

In 1890 he moved with his parents to Dallas, where he opened his first art studio, the Ironshed, sometimes called Old Ironsides, behind his parents' home. During the next two decades, Reaugh exhibited his paintings in Boston, Washington, at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the National Academy of Design in New York, and the State Fair of Texas. He also exhibited works at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1903. Two of the forty-four paintings sold at the Chicago Fair were Reaugh's.

Beginning in the late 1880s Reaugh painted primarily in pastel. He used some of his earlier sketches for pastel studies. One of these, dated 1883, is at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. With this medium, Reaugh was able to capture the subtle shades of color he found in the landscapes and skies of West Texas and New Mexico; these became characteristic of his work, from the smallest of his works (1½" by 2½") to the larger pieces (24" by 48"). Reaugh's most famous works, the series of seven paintings entitled Twenty-four Hours with the Herd, are based on sketches made during the early 1880s on trips to the ranches managed by cattlemen Frank and Romie Houston. Reaugh probably accompanied them on roundups near Wichita Falls, where he documented the period's cattle drives and thus visually preserved a part of Texas history.

In addition to being an accomplished landscape and cattle artist, Reaugh was an inventor and photographer. He took several hundred photographs as studies for his paintings. In 1904 he patented a "cooling mechanism for explosive engines" and in the following year had several other patents pending. He crafted his own pastels, drawing paper, and pastel board. He designed picture cases, a portable easel (1906), the mouldings used to frame many of his paintings, La Cicada (the bus used on numerous sketch trips), and his second Dallas studio, El Sibil. In 1921 he copyrighted a "Classification Chart for Animals of North America." He served as one of three directors of the Limacon Pump and Motor Company of Dallas, for which he designed and patented the rotary pump.

Reaugh was heralded as the "Dean of Texas Artists," and his interest in art was lifelong. He continued teaching art classes and sold his paintings directly from his studio. He promoted the arts in Dallas by bringing in exhibits from other parts of the country, sometimes at his own expense, and by donating the first painting to establish the Dallas Art Association, now the Dallas Museum of Art. He also founded the Dallas School of Fine Arts. Reaugh never married. He died in Dallas on May 6, 1945, and is buried in the cemetery at Terrell, Texas.

Although he donated his collection of paintings to the "Southwest at large," intending that they be kept together and displayed, his paintings are housed at several institutions. The largest collections are at the Panhandle Plains Museum on the West Texas State University campus at Canyon, which also has some 300 of Reaugh's glass-plate negatives; at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin; and at the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Other paintings are located in the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Historical Society, and in private collections.

Selected Biographical and Career Highlights

  • 1860, Born near Jacksonville, Illinois
  • 1876, Settles on a small ranch in Kaufman County
  • 1880s, Accompanies cattle drives from Texas to Kansas, sketching on the journey
  • 1884-85, Attends St. Louis School for the Arts
  • 1888-89, Studies at the Academie Julian, Paris
  • 1890, Moves to Dallas, begins annual sketching expeditions
  • 1900, Begins working for Dallas Morning News as weekly art commentator and reporter
  • 1945, Dies in Dallas

Selected Exhibitions

  • 1893, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago
  • 1904, Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis
  • 1910, 1913-14, 1917-18, 1920, 1922-29, 1931-37, Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth
  • 1915, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco
  • 1939, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts
  • 1971, Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  • 1987, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon

Selected Public Collections

  • Museums of Abilene
  • University of Texas, Austin
  • Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont
  • Texas A&M University, College Station
  • Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • Witte Museum, San Antonio
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