Robert Jenkins Onderdonk

          Robert Jenkins Onderdonk (1852-1917) was a San Antonio portrait, landscape and still life painter and teacher of art. He was born at St. Timothy's Hall, Caytonsvillle, Maryland, January 18,1852.

     Robert did not seriously study art until he was about twenty years of age when he entered the National Academy of Design, New York, studying for two years. After the Academy he studied at the Art Students League in New York under Walter Shirlow and Carroll Beckwith. He also studied under A.H. Warren. Onderdonk being one of six students in his class, Warren then known as the "Carot of America". His last year studying was under William Merritt Chase.

     Onderdonk lived in New York until 1878 when he came to San Antonio with Walter Negley who owned a ranch in Texas and induced Onderdonk to visit him and encouraging the artist with prospects of making enough money to continue his studies in Europe.

     In 1889 Onderdonk went to Dallas to obtain certain commissions. He was successful there and sent for his family. They lived in Dallas until 1895 when Mrs. Onderdonk's father died and it was deemed advisable to return to San Antonio. The Dallas Art Students League was organized by Robert Onderdonk and composed of his ambitious students. Onderdonk was elected president and instructor. This organization guaranteed a salary each month and this was perhaps the beginning of a real art school in Dallas.  However, in spite of these more favorable financial condition in Dallas, Onderdonk preferred San Antonio as a place to live and to paint. The contribution made by Onderdonk to the growth of an art spirit in San Antonio has been lasting.

     He loved the soft rolling hills of Texas at dusk or sunset and trees with light filtering through upon figures. He loved the texture of things and excelled in still life painting. He was also a portrait painter of great merit.

     Robert Onderdonk exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York; The Philadelphia Academy; St. Louis Exposition and other international exhibitions. During his lifetime he was known as the Dean of Texas Artists.

 Back Door Mission San Jose            


Historical Navarro District-San Antonio 1884

San Antonio River

Portrait of  his Daughter Eleanor


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