Fritz Winold Reiss, better known as Winold Reiss, was born in Karlsruhe, Germany. He was raised in the Black Forest, where he studied under his father, who painted landscapes. Reiss also studied with von Stuck at the Royal Academy in Munich and with Diez at the Art School in Munich.
Inspired by the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, Reiss came to the United States in 1913 expressly to paint the American Indian. Delayed slightly by World War I, Reiss began in 1919 to paint his collection of Indian portraits, including more than eighty works for the Great Northern Railroad that were exhibited nationally and in Europe.
The Blackfeet, in particular, were the subjects of many book illustrations for which Reiss was commissioned. He spent so much time with them that he became a member of the tribe under the name “Beaver Child,” a reference to the intensity of his painting. Although known for his portraits, Reiss also painted landscapes, including the Grand Canyon.
In 1941, he was assistant professor of mural painting at New York University, and had constructed tens of murals depicting the Indian in theaters, restaurants such as Longchamps in New York City, hotels, clubs and the Cincinnati Union Terminal. Some of murals were done in glass mosaic.
Reiss spent his life portraying the West. When he died, the Blackfeet scattered his ashes at the foot of the Rockies.
Reference: Samuels’ Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, by Peggy and Harold Samuels