Ernest Thompson Seton1860 - 1946
Painter, Illustrator, Writer, Naturalist
Born: August 14, 1860, South Shields, Durham, England
Died: October, 23, 1946, Seton Village, New Mexico
Born Ernest Evan Thompson in England in 1860, Ernest Thompson Seton began a life of world traveling in 1866, when the young boy moved with his family to Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. By 1870, the family relocated to Toronto, and Seton attended schools there. Always interested in art, he won artistic contests before he was eighteen years old; by nineteen, Seton had won a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy in England for a period of seven years. It was around this time, he officially changed his name in an assertion of independence.
Unfortunately, after only three years in his native Great Britain, Seton fell gravely ill and decided to return to Canada at his mother's request. Following his homecoming, Seton made his way to Manitoba to live with two of his homesteader brothers and recuperate. Although he disliked participating in the farming activities, Seton did develop a deep love and appreciation for nature and wild animals during his stay. He would often trek into the Carberry Sandhills to research the wildlife there, and as he recovered his strength, he began writing articles about his work.
Around 1883, Seton began making frequent visits to New York City, as he was building a career as a wildlife artist. He made many significant contacts in the art world during his time in New York, spending many hours sketching in the American Museum of Natural History to complete a commission for one thousand depictions of various mammals for the Century Dictionary. In New York, he also studied at the Art Students League; around 1890 Seton traveled on to Paris to further his studies. While in Paris, he exhibited at the Salon of 1891 and completed his fourth book, Studies in the Art Anatomy of Animals. Suffering eye problems possibly related to the close-up work involved with creating his book, Seton soon left France to recuperate in New Mexico on a friend's ranch. While there, he invented the fictional character of Lobo the wWlf, and wrote his next book, Wild Animals I Have Known.
Over the course of his long life, Seton created literally thousands of drawings and sketches of animals and Native American subjects; he also painted about thirty canvases. His enthusiastic interest in Native American culture led him to be a founding member of the Boy Scouts of America around 1910, and he was a sought-after lecturer as well. Publishing about forty books and scores of articles periodicals, Seton was presented with several honors during his lifetime. The Canadian Province of Manitoba named him Official Naturalist to the Government of Manitoba following his representation of that area at the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893. He was also presented with an honorary Master of Humanities Degree from Springfield College in Massachusetts. Becoming a United States citizen in 1931, Seton retired to a custom-built "castle" in a village outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, that he named for himself. Seton passed away at his home at age 86 in 1946.