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John Edward Borein
(1872 - 1945)

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The son of the deputy sheriff of San Leandro, grew up along one of California's cattle trails. Borein's artistic inclinations became evident almost immediately as he was sketching at the tender age of five. His earliest subjects--cowboys, vaqueros, longhorn cattle and horses--determined his lifelong interests. Beginning in 1893, Borein worked on ranches along the California coast. He became a proficient roper and rider and developed skills in saddle-making and lasso-braiding. He continued to sketch and found ample inspiration in his itinerant life. His art first appeared in print in 1896. By 1900 he established a studio in Oakland and in 1904 began to work as an illustrator for San Francisco Bay Area newspapers and magazines including Sunset Magazine.

In 1907 he moved to New York, to gain valuable experience in the world of illustration. Though thought of primarily as a Western artist, his years in New York were some of the most productive and rewarding of his career. In 1917, he moved to Santa Barbara where he continued to portray a range of subjects from vaqueros to California missions. Borein was intensely detail oriented. In his depiction of Native Americans, he thought it was more important to convey a genuine sense of "lndianness" more than ethnographic accuracy.

Borein worked primarily in watercolor, etching and ink drawings. He mastered the technique of etching, setting his work apart from his peers. In his work, Borein's aim was to convey a flavor of authenticity without pretension, factual fussiness or complex aesthetic effects. His subjects were conjured from his imagination, but were based on the concrete facts of the life he lived and observed. Borein developed a readily identifiable personal style that communicates the sun-drenched aridity of the desert and the open range, the vastness of the landscape and the volatile spark that animates the inhabitants.


Harco Gallery updates our online inventory as new works become available, however if you are looking for a specific work not in our online inventory, contact us.

Scratchin' High


Blackfoot Women Moving Camp, No. 1




Robes and Meat

Late 19th and early 20th century American art with an emphasis on the 1930s since 1977
international fine print dealers association