These Bluebonnets Haven’t Been Seen in 40 Years

A painting of bluebonnets held in a private collection is up for auction this weekend in Dallas.

By Leah ScarpelliNovember 6, 2015 4:46 pm

If you live in Texas, you know bluebonnets usually bloom in spring. But this November, we’re about to see a whole crop of bluebonnets that haven’t revealed their petals in 40 years.

That’s because this patch of bluebonnets, tucked between crumbling rocks and spiny cactus, is in a painting. A masterpiece that’s making its auction debut on Saturday in Dallas.

“Texas Landscape with Bluebonnets” hasn’t been seen for decades. Atlee Phillips, Director of Texas Art at Fine Art Heritage Auctions, says this painting is by one of Texas’ top landscape artists, Julian Onderdonk.

Phillips says the painting includes a beautiful vista of the bluebonnets, but it shows other flora unique to Hill Country.

“There are also other elements that you find in the Hill Country that actually are my favorites in some ways, which are cactus and limestone,” she says. “It also has Julian’s wonderful trees and a stormy sky, as well as a road that sort of draws your eye into the composition.”

Phillips says Onderdonk was the first painter to capture the bluebonnets in this now-famous way.

“He loved the Texas landscape,” Phillips says. “He went away to New York and studied with the best teacher of the time, William Merritt Chase, and then he came back to paint the Texas landscape. He really was the father of what we call the Bluebonnet School, which is still wildly popular today.”