During his short life, Robert Julian Onderdonk was described as "Texas' Greatest Artist." He is now remains the most famous and best loved of Texas landscape painters. His paintings of fields in the Hill Country of central Texas, awash in sunshine, carpeted with brilliant Bluebonnets, became a legend in his native region earning him the title of “The Bluebonnet Painter”.
Onderdonk was the son of the important Texas landscapist, Robert Onderdonk. His father and mentor taught him the rudiments of art and stressed the importance of drawing at an early age. Sponsored by a Texas patron, he studied at the Art Students League in New York when he was 19, the pupil of Kenyon Cox, Frank DuMond, and Robert Henri. He also studied with William Merritt Chase at Chase's summer school at Shinnecock on Long Island and the New York School of Art, and Chase had a continuing influence on his work.
Onderdonk married in 1902 and in order to support his family as well as his love of painting, he took a temporary position in 1906 with the Dallas State Fair Association to put on an art exhibit, and three years later he took a job with them that lasted until his premature death in 1922 at the age of forty. By the time Oderdonk had returned to Texas permanently in 1909, the New York art critics had become aware of his work and he would maintain a foothold in the art world that had him returning to New York City on a yearly basis.
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