Lon Megargee

(1883 - 1960)

Biography

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Lon Megargee

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Having worked as a cowboy, Megargee often illustrated the humorous side of cowboy life

Lawrence Alonzo Megargee was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The documentation on the precise date of Megargee’s birth ranges from 1883 to 1900. At the age 13 he ran away from his upper class family and travelled west to Arizona, working as cowboy painter, illustrator, free-lance cowboy, exhibition roper, poker dealer, and bronco buster.

Later, Megargee went east again where he studied art in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and in New York at the National Academy of Design, Art Students League, Pratt Institute Art School, Cooper Union Art School and Grand Central Art School.

Megargee returned to Arizona, living in Cave Creek, Salt River Canyon, Phoenix and, in the last years of his life, Cottonwood, near Sedona. His Phoenix home was later converted to a hotel and dining place called the Hermosa Inn.

Megargee was a ranch owner and also painted the places he loved and the cowboy life he admired. By 1910, he was among the earliest resident artists, and was probably the best known artist in Arizona. His name was first associated with a landscape series of 15 large murals for the Capitol Building, newly constructed just after Arizona became a state in 1912. Another one of his paintings, Elemental, was the first painting by an artist living in Arizona to be acquired for the Municipal Collection of Phoenix. These works were chosen from entries in the State Fair, where he continued to win prizes for figure and landscape painting.

From 1911 to 1953, Megargee did numerous commission works for the Santa Fe Railroad, including a work titled Navajos Watching a Santa Fe Train. Between 1915 and 1930, he also painted in the Los Angeles area of California where he had entries in the California State Fair, and where he worked for several newspapers and later at the old Lasky (Paramount) Studio, heading up the art department.

Megargee’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe, Arizona Capitol Building, Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona Historical Society in Tucson, Santa Fe Railway Collection and the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site in Ganado, Arizona. His paintings are also in the inventory of American Paintings at the Smithsonian Institution.

Megargee was an illustrator for The Spur, Country Life and Sportsman Magazine. He became best known for his illustrations for ads for Arizona Brewing Company featuring humorous aspects of cowboy life.