A Great Danish American Birthday - Olaf Wieghorst

  • April 30, 2021
  • April 30, 2023
  • 3 sessions
  • April 30, 2021 (CDT)
  • April 30, 2022 (CDT)
  • April 30, 2023 (CDT)

Olaf Wieghorst (April 30, 1899 in Viborg, Denmark – April 27, 1988 in California, United States) was a painter of the American West in the vein of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell and is known for his Indian, cowboy and horse paintings. In 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Wieghorst was a stunt rider (horse) for a Danish circus (Tivoli Theater in Copenhagen) before migrating to the United States at the age of 19. He also worked on a farm where he often rode horses.

Wieghorst emigrated to the United States from Denmark in 1918 where he lived the rest of his life.

He spent his working career on mounted patrol with the U.S. Cavalry, with occasional interludes as a wrangler on ranches in the western states. Wherever he went, he sketched and painted the Western culture he loved, often selling his work as calendar and magazine illustrations (such as Zane Grey's Western Magazine and Hoofs and Horns, an honor he shared with other cowboy artists such as Dan Muller).

In 1924, Olaf Wieghorst married a Brooklyn girl named Mabel Walters and they had a son. In the same year, he joined the New York City Police Department (1924-1944) where he became a Mounted Police Officer with the Department. Due to his knowledge of horses, he was quickly sent to the Remount Section of the Mounted Unit where he broke and trained horses for the Unit. In 1945, Wieghorst eventually settled in El Cajon, CaliforniaSan Diego County, California and spent the rest of his life there working on his art. He was a self-trained artist and learned to work with oil painting and water colors himself. Over time he became a proficient painter and as a result, Grand Central Art Galleries of the Biltmore Hotel chose to display his paintings. He also painted horses and studied their nature. The most famous of his models were Gene Autry’s Champion, Tom Morgan’s stallion and Roy Rogers’ Trigger.

He appeared in two John Wayne movies in the 60's, McLintock! and El Dorado. Some of his art work was used in the open titles sequence in the film El Dorado.

In 1985 two of his works, The Navajo Madonna and The Navajo Man were sold for over $1 million. He died on April 28, 1988 in La Mesa, CA. - Wikipedia

Olaf Wieghorst Museum Website


National Foundation for Danish America
PO Box 1003
Wilmette, Illinois 60091

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