Olaf Wieghorst

(1899 - 1988)


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Olaf Wieghorst

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Olaf Wieghorst was a self-taught artist who took up painting during his spare time. He is best known for his Western genre, Indian, cowboy and horse paintings.

Wieghorst was born in Viborg, Denmark. By the age of nine he was skilled in horseback acrobatics and performed as a stunt rider for the Danish Circus (Tivoli Theater in Copenhagen) and also throughout different parts of Europe. He also learned horseback riding working on a stock farm and during this time, he developed a love for horses which was to become a major theme in his paintings.

In 1918, Wieghorst arrived in the United States, having worked as a cabin boy on a steamer. He served in the military as part of the 5th U.S. Cavalry during the days of the Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa, where he worked on the Mexican border. After leaving the cavalry, Wieghorst travelled a great deal throughout the West where he often found work as a cowboy, especially in New Mexico and Arizona. He later worked as a mounted policeman in New York City, spending most of his time on a horse named Rhombo, patrolling the Central Park bridle paths and saving many people injury from runaway horses. During this time, he became so proficient with painting that the Grand Central Art Galleries of the Biltmore Hotel began to represent him.

In 1944 Wieghorst moved to El Cajon, California, where he ended up living for more than 40 years. Here in San Diego county, he built a studio that was outfitted extensively with western memorabilia; he also maintained two horses for use as models and for riding.

His love of horses and the west showed in his paintings and the common theme of his better art work is comprised of Western genre, horses, cowboys and Indians. Wieghorst also created a number of horse portraits and would study their personalities as part of creating the painting. Some of the more famous horses captured in his paintings were Gene Autry’s Champion, Tom Morgan’s stallion and Roy Rogers’ Trigger.