Onderdonk, Julian

Julian Onderdonk

 (Am. 1882-1922)

Onderdonk was the son of Robert Jenkins Onderdonk and brother of Eleanor Rogers Onderdonk. He was born in San Antonio and at age sixteen began studying with his father. In 1901, at age nineteen, he moved to New York where he was a student of Kenyon Cox at the Art Students League of New York. He studied under William Merritt Chase (who painted Onderdonk’s portrait) in his summer school at Shinnecock, New York. Onderdonk received instruction afterward from Frank Vincent DuMond and Robert Henri. In 1906 Onderdonk accepted a position organizing the State Fair of Texas annual exhibitions in Dallas, a position he held for several years. In difficult financial circumstances, Onderdonk returned in 1909 to San Antonio where he painted in the city and its environs. Onderdonk’s works attracted increasing sums over the years. When he died in San Antonio, at age forty and the apex of his career, he reportedly had advance orders for $20,000 of work. “He painted with great skill his sensitive impressions of the bigness of Texas, and its most characteristic subjects – dusty roads, ‘neath fulsome sunshine, in late afternoon, or at twilight; the blooming cactus or hillsides of blue lupine; the rolling gulf clouds; the aged live oaks so full of character; the headwaters of the different streams where he found the colors wonderful in varying lights; and the gray brush in winter . . . painting them steadily and consistently with an increasing charm each year.” – Fisk