Farm animals, particularly cattle, have long been accepted as a strong sub-genre of landscape painting, with its exponents such as Constant Troyon widely celebrated. Oddly, the American Impressionist Edward Charles Volkert (1871-1935), who made a career of painting cattle and rural scenes, appears to have been almost forgotten.
Edward Volkert was the son of an immigrant from Alsace (which had alternated between French and German rule), and was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He studied at the Cincinnati Art Academy under Frank Duveneck (who also taught John Henry Twachtman), then at the Art Students League in New York, under William Merritt Chase.
Although he was a popular portraitist in New York City, he increasingly preferred to paint scenes in rural Ohio, where he developed his particular taste for painting cattle. He was first invited to visit Old Lyme, Connecticut, as a guest of Florence Griswold, who cultivated friendships with Childe Hassam and several American Impressionists. He eventually moved to Hamburg (near Old Lyme) in 1922, so that he could concentrate on oxen, which he said were better than cows at posing, as they were less inquisitive.
I have only been able to track down a few of his paintings, most of which appear to come from late in his career, when he was painting in Connecticut. Earlier on he apparently had a Divisionist style.
He kept a record with miniature copies of most of his paintings in what he termed his ‘Cattle Logs’. Their whereabouts is unknown, although they would seem likely candidates to be broken up and sold piecemeal, which would be a great tragedy.
Movie clips of Volkert painting, from the Florence Griswold Museum.