A lifelong resident of Ohio, John Hauser became famous as a painter of the American Indian. He was the son of a German cabinetmaker and showed early aptitude for art. Before age 15, he studied at the Ohio Mechanic’s Institute and at the Cincinnati Art Academy, and he later studied with Thomas Noble at the McMicken Art School. In 1880, he enrolled in the Munich Royal Academy of Fine Arts as a student of Nicholas Gysis and then did further study in Dusseldorf and Paris, staying in Europe until 1891. As in the case with so many other Western artists, this type of study led to a style preoccupied with realism, detail, and controlled execution.
Returning to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1891, Hauser taught drawing and made his first trip West, visiting Arizona and New Mexico, where he painted the Navajo, Pueblo and Sioux Indians. From that point onward, Hauser determined to make a living painting the Indians, and he made yearly visits to the reservations to gather material.
Evan S. Connell, in his book titled Son of the Morning Star, describes a watercolor painting depicting the battle that was executed by John Hauser for Kicking Bear, Chief of the Sioux. In the painting the battlefield is viewed from above, with the scattered soldiers looking like “dead brown sparrows” and an occasional uncolored outline of a figure to represent a departing spirit. “A number of attractive horses may be seen – yellow, ink, and green horses,” Connell writes. “But most significant, in the center of this painting stand four important Sioux: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Rain in the Face and the artist himself.” Like Edgar Paxson, Hauser tended to model his subjects rather heavily, which could very well have resulted from the artist’s over-reliance on the photograph as a research tool. Be that as it may, Hauser’s portrait nevertheless effectively conveys the dignity and presence of this famous war chief.
Hauser did quite a few portraits of famed Indian chiefs besides that of Sitting Bull, including Lone Bear, Spotted Tail, and High Horse. His love and sympathy for the Indians was recognized in 1901 when he and his wife were adopted into the Sioux nation, and he was given the name “Straight White Shield” and his wife was named “Bring Us Sweets.”
Reference: The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, edited by Dr. Rick Stewart, AskArt.com