Dawson Gallery


Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Gilbert Gaul became a painter of highly realistic western scenes showing interaction between Caucasian people and Indians.

He attended schools in Newark, New Jersey and the Claverack Military Academy, but ill health prevented him from pursuing a naval career. In the 1870s, he began the study of art, enrolling in New York at the National Academy of Design where he studied with Lemuel Wilmarth and at the Art Students League with John George Brown. In 1882, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Design.

He spent four years in Van Buren, Tennessee, painting Civil War depictions and rural genre and then worked as an illustrator for several magazines including "Harper's Monthly."

Numerous times from 1876 he traveled in the West, living on Army posts and with Indian tribes and recording the various lifestyles with camera and brushes. From his studios in New York City and Nashville, Tennessee, he made paintings based on these studies.

In the 1880s, he was among a group of eleven artists including Peter Moran, Julian Scott, and Walter Shirlaw, who were commissioned by the Federal Government to illustrate the Eleventh Census of 1890. The result was one of the most comprehensive sources of American Indian life ever published, a 683 page document which he wrote as well as helped illustrate.

Between 1905 and 1910, he did paintings of women and children, sometimes in seaside settings and in dark tones reminding of Winslow Homer.

Many of his paintings are in the Birmingham, Alabama, Museum of Art, and an account of his travels in Mexico and South America was exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.


Michael David Zellman, Three Hundred Years of American Art

Gilbert Gaul

American 1855-1919