Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Art of Ernest Untermann

Dinosaur Painting by Ernest Untermann, Sr.

Ernest Untermann, Sr. was born in Brandenburg, Germany in 1864. He studied geology and paleontology, and was a committed Socialist. As a young man, he spent 10 years as a sailor and traveled the South Seas. Eventually, he moved to America where he translated Karl Marx's writings into English. Untermann also wrote about both economics and natural history.

Ernest Untermann, 1950

Later in life, Untermann traveled to the Uinta Basin in Utah, and fell in love with the geology and early history of the place. He began to paint.

Ernest Untermann painting

On a recent trip to Vernal, Utah, I visited the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum (that name is a mouthful!).  Upstairs in a small area off the beaten path, is a wonderful exhibit of Untermann's paintings. The art on the walls is but a fraction of the paintings housed at the museum, but there are enough paintings on exhibit to give you a feel for Untermann's style.

Prehistoric plant life in the Uinta basin

Untermann's paintings have been called whimsical, primitive, or naive. I found them to be absolutely charming. I loved his use of color and the style of his paintings.

Scenery of the Uinta Basin

After driving to Vernal and around the local area, I could see why Untermann was so fascinated with the scenery. Vernal is home to dinosaur fossils and primitive rock art from early native residents. Untermann chose to depict not only the scenery, but early creatures and peoples that once inhabited this area.

Early mammals.

I wasn't expecting to find an art exhibit at the museum, so being able to walk through this series of Ernest Untermann's paintings was quite a treat.  Untermann died in Vernal in 1956, at the age of 91. He was known as the "Artist of the Uintas."

I think this one might be my favorite.

If you would like to see Untermann's paintings in person, the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum is located at 496  E. Main Street in Vernal, UT.  Hours are 9am - 5pm daily from April to September. From October through March, the museum is open Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays.  Admission is $6 for adults, and $3 for children over 5.


  1. I've never heard of Unterman. I think I like his Scenery at Uintah Basin best. Very cool artwork. Thanks for posting it.

    1. I like that one, too. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  2. I loved his work! So much individual interpretation of the landscape and a great sense of color and design. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love his color and design sense, too. It was an unexpected delight to see these paintings!