Reinhold H. Palenske Biography

Reinhold H. Palenske




Reinhold Palenske, also known as R.H. Palenske, was born on October 4, 1884, in Chicago, Illinois, the son and grandson of cavalry officers. It was assumed that he would follow in the footsteps of his forbearers and he was brought on hunting trips from an early age to introduce him to horseback riding; this led to his fascination with the animals and a desire to learn to draw them. At age seventeen, after years of teaching himself the basics of drawing, he was granted permission to pursue an art education and he enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, studying under Wellington Reynolds. 

The primary subjects of Palenske's oeuvre related to the American and Canadian west, including people, animals, and landscapes inspired by his travels both solo and with friends J.M Biggon and Carl Rungus, with whom he formed the "Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies". Not long after graduation Palenske secured exclusive representation with publishers Brown & Bigelow, whose image was based on outdoorsmanship, and his works were reproduced as calendars and advertisements for hunting and fishing gear. He also worked as a freelance illustrator for a variety of newspapers, including The Spur, the Washington Star, and the Chicago Daily News. He kept this work up until he disovered the etching medium, at which point he devoted his time to perfecting the technique and entering his work in various print exhibitions. In 1945, he was awarded the Chicago Society of Etchers' prize for "outstanding work of the year among the nation's top etchers."

Palenske continued to work and exhibit throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s. He was a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers. He died on December 29, 1953. His work remains a mainstay of the depiction of the American West. 

Exhibitions: Oakland Art Gallery (1940); the Chicago Society of Etchers (various). Collections: Library of Congress; the New York Public Library; the Royal Gallery of London; Smithsonian American Art Institute.