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Home North Carolina Watauga County City of Blowing Rock Historical Markers Elliott Daingerfield 1859-1932

Elliott Daingerfield 1859-1932

US 221, Blowing Rock, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 7' 12.8316", -81° 45' 17.7156"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Artist, teacher, author. His paintings hang in the National Gallery, Metropolitan Museum, and other galleries. His home is here."
     In the early 1900s, the Santa Fe Railway, in an attempt to boost tourism to the southwestern United States, commissioned a number of paintings by renowned artists of the natural wonders and tourist destinations of the region. Perhaps the most famous painting from this exhibition, The Grand Canyon, was completed by artist Elliott Daingerfield, who spent the first quarter of his life in Fayetteville.

     Born on March 26, 1859, in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, Elliott was the son of John and Matilda Daingerfield. The family moved to North Carolina in 1861 when Jefferson Davis appointed Captain John Daingerfield as commander of the Fayetteville Arsenal. In the aftermath of the war, Elliott received his education at several private schools. He demonstrated an artistic talent from an early age and, according to family tradition, began painting after being given a box of watercolors for Christmas one year. He also apprenticed himself to a local China painter and a Fayetteville photographer. The Daingerfield family home in Fayetteville had been the site of the Bank of the United States from 1820 to 1835.

     In 1880, Daingerfield left Fayetteville for New York where he apprenticed under Walter Satterlee, associate member of the National Academy of Design. Four years later, he left Satterlee to join George Inness of Holbein Studios. The two became friends, and Daingerfield later credited Inness with teaching him techniques of color and light that became his hallmark. In 1886, Daingerfield traveled to Blowing Rock attempting to recover from diphtheria. Although he returned to New York, the artist maintained a summer home in the village until his death. The journey was the turning point of his career. Overcome by the beauty of the North Carolina mountains and what he saw as religious connotations involved in nature, Daingerfield devoted himself to landscape and religious art. His 1895 Madonna with Child is considered one of the great American works of art.

     In 1911, the Santa Fe Railway hired Daingerfield to supplement their exhibition of southwestern landscape scenes. For nearly three years he traveled the southwest painting masterpieces such as The Grand Canyon, Trees on the Canyon Rim, The Sleepers, and The Genius of the Canyon. The works were later presented at the Corcoran Gallery in an exposition called The Society of Men Who Paint the Far West. Religious works also dominated this period in his life, and his 1918 still hangs in the Church of St. Mary in the Hills at Blowing Rock.

     In 1924, Daingerfield traveled to Europe to work, but suffered an embolism. He returned after only a year. The injury left him debilitated and marked the end of his artistic career. Instead he focused on lecturing and publishing. He had several manuscripts completed before 1925, including biographies of friend George Inness and artist Ralph Albert Blakelock. Daingerfield died on October 22, 1932, of a heart attack, leaving a wife and two daughters. He was buried in Cross Creek Cemetery in Fayetteville. In 1934, the Grand Central Galleries of New York held a memorial exhibition showing fifty-three of his paintings. In 1971, the North Carolina Museum of Art staged an exposition of nearly two hundred of his works.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 2-3—sketch by James Elliott Moore
Estill Curtis Pennington and J. Richard Gruber, Victorian Visionary: The Art of Elliott Daingerfield (1994)
L. Edmond Leipold, Famous American Artists (1969)
F. F. Sherman, Landscape and Figure Painters of America (1917)
Robert Hobbs, Elliott Daingerfield Retrospective Exhibition (1971)
Elliott Daingerfield 1859-1932 Historical Marker Location Map, Blowing Rock, North Carolina