John Heber Stansfield was born in Mount Pleasant, Utah in 1878. Largely self-taught, he painted many landscapes in Utah and its surrounding area when he found time among his business, civic and philanthropic works. He died in Mount Pleasant, Utah in 1953.
Stansfield was involved in his family's sheepherding business until he was 27. He was also a building contractor and decorator, Presbyterian Church trustee, and Mount Pleasant town councilman. In 1938, he designed the Mount Pleasant City Hall.
Stansfield was a regular contributor at state fairs and exhibitions. At his death, he had completed about 2000 works. Examples of his work are Mount Nebo Early Spring(1942), In the Land of the Sage, Marysvale Canyon, Piute County, Utah (1927), andThe West (1938).
Biography adapted from Artists of Utah.
John Heber Stansfield was born in the small, central Utah town of Mt. Pleasant in 1878. As a young man, he worked long hours sheep herding, and to help pass the time he drew with charcoal. Later, his family's successful and growing sheep business meant increasingly less time for art, but Stansfield did become a self-taught painter. Although he never left the area for formal studies in the East or Europe, as many of his contemporaries did, Stansfield had a natural and unique sense of light and pattern and produced “very personal, even mysterious, apprehensions of reality on canvas.“ His early paintings were described by Haseltine as “lean, dry, and taut.“
By 1905, Stansfield had married and settled down to become a building contractor, decorator, and stalwart member of the community. He was a Presbyterian Church trustee, served as San pete County Welfare Department administrator, and as town councilman. He managed to fit in time to paint as well as to make occasional visits to other artists' studios and for painting trips to California, the Southwest, and the Canadian Rockies. He also taught for 13 years at Snow College in Ephraim and as a volunteer instructor at the Utah State prison. When he died in Mt. Pleasant at the age of 75, he left over 2000 paintings.
Although critics morn his transition to a very saleable palette knife technique that reduced his earlier strong, unique style to a more formulaic approach, Stansfield was a much-loved man whose love and comfort with home set him apart in his generation.
Biography courtesy Artists of Utah.
Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference. Ventura, CA: Davenport's Art Reference, 2001.
Dawdy, Doris. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago, IL: Sage Books, 1990.
Dunbier, Roger, ed. North American Artists: The Artists Bluebook. Scottsdale, AZ: AskART.com, 2000.
Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.
Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art : Compiled from the Original Thirty-four Volumes of American Art Annual--Who's Who in Art, Biographies of American Artists Active from 1898-1947. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985.
Haseltine, James L. 100 Years of Utah Painting: Selected Works from the 1840s to the 1940s. Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake Art Center, 1965.
Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940. San Francisco, CA: Hughes Pub. Co., 1986
Olpin, Robert, S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.
Samuels, Peggy and Harold Samuels. The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976.
Springville Museum of Art. Permanent Collection Catalog. Springville, UT: Springville Museum of Art, 1972.
Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna Poulton, and Janie Rogers. 150 Year Survey of Utah Art, Utah Artists. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2001.
Swanson, Vern G, Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Art. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1992.
Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1991.