Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Augustus W. Dunbier, one of Nebraska's most prominent artists in the early and mid– twentieth century, was a prolific oil painter who maintained studios in Omaha from 1916 until his death on September 11, 1977. He was known for his colorful landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and figures in an impressionistic style.

Dunbier was born on a farm in Polk County, Nebraska, on January 1, 1888. At age sixteen he moved with his parents to Germany, where from 1907 to 1914 he was enrolled at the Royal Academy in Düsseldorf. He later studied at the Chicago Art Institute. Dunbier returned to Nebraska just before World War I and opened his Omaha studio. In 1932 he married Lou Eckstrom from Newman Grove, Nebraska, and they had one son, Roger.

In Omaha Dunbier earned a living from the sale of his paintings, many of them portraits of prominent persons, and by teaching at the ymca and later from his home studio at 914 North 49th Avenue. He also conducted workshops all over Nebraska except in Lincoln, where he appears to have been unwelcome because of what was regarded as his old-fashioned painting style and his vocal disdain of the university's growing modernist art collection.

The majority of Dunbier's landscapes, numbering several thousand, were painted in his home state, where the artist loved the hills and trees, lakes and rivers, farm scenes, and city-scapes. He completed most of these landscapes outdoors, taking no more than several hours for each work. In the evenings he frequently would carve a frame for the painting made that day, and he often commented that it took him longer to carve and gild a frame than to paint a painting. Paintings by Augustus Dunbier are in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, and the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, where a Dunbier retrospective exhibition was held in 1994.

Lonnie Pierson Dubier Scottsdale, Arizona

Hooley, Renee. Western Art Digest 14 (1987): 66–71.

Robinson, Natalie U. Southwest Art 18 (1989): 60–64.

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