link to University of Utah Home link to Marriott Library Home
Off Campus Access - Log In

Utah Artists Project Logo

Mahonri Young

Mahonri Young was born in Salt Lake City in 1877. He became interested in art as a young boy, and studied in Utah, New York and Paris to achieve national recognition as both a painter and a sculptor. He died in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1957.

Beginning 1899, Young pursued his studies at the Art Students League in New York under George Bridgeman and Kenyon Cox. He began studies at the Académie Julian in Paris in late 1901. Young trained in both painting and sculpture, but decided that his style was better suited to sculpture.

Young's sculptural reputation was twofold, sculptures of laborers and prize fighters and his much larger depictions of frontier heroism.   Man With a Pick (1915), Stevedore(1904), Man Sawing (1912), and Right to the Jaw (1926–27) are examples of his work.

Biography adapted from The Springville Museum of Art.

Mahonri's Salt Lake high school experience was notably short, it lasted one day! He claimed he had “more important things to do.“ The more important things were repairing the family furniture and modeling figures. He was asked to mold the figure of a woman in butter for the creamery exhibit at the Utah State Fair. Completed and set in place, this work of art was as short lived as his high school education, someone forgot to shut the refrigerator door.

However, in 1897, determined to satisfy his interest in art, Mahonri took a job at a bicycle repair and stationery shop in order to pay J. T. Harwood $2.50 a week for art lessons. Describing his study of art, Mahonri said, “I have always drawn, and since I was 18 have consciously tried to learn to draw. I have loved and studied all the great draftsmen, but have always gone to nature for my material. I have tried to make good drawings, not drawings that look good.“

Mahonri learned about the national art scene by reading Harpers and Scribners magazines. He worked in the The Salt Lake Tribune's graphic department to earn enough money to study in New York City. In 1899, Young left Utah to attend the Art Student's League in New York City. Once there, Mahonri studied under the academic muralist Kenyon Cox, learning his approach to representational art. The New York experience was an eye opener for Salt Lake-born Mahonri. However, in 1901, Young was forced to return to Salt Lake City for financial reasons.

Back in Utah, Young took a job with the Salt Lake Herald as a photo-engraver. His dream was to save enough money to travel to Paris. Once in Paris, Young's time was full of academic study. His real education, however, took place in the classrooms of nature, the studio, and the museum gallery. As he studied, Young became aware that he tended to paint linear action studies which related more to sculpture than to painting. For this reason, he shifted his study to sculpture, but throughout his career he was highly respected and won national prizes in watercolor, etching, and oil painting. Although Young experimented in contemporary approaches to form, he always returned to realistic expression to pursue his interest in capturing the human figure in motion.

A stylizing Social Realist, Young was the winner of numerous awards and commissions on both local and national levels. During his life, he completed approximately 120 sculptures, 300 etchings, 1500 watercolors, more than 100 oil paintings, and thousands of sketches.

Utah's most famous New York-based artist, Mahonri M. Young, spent the Great Depression teaching at the Art Student's League and doing work for the American Pavilion at the New York “World's Fair“ of 1939. His Factory Worker and his Farm Worker were included in the decorative architecture of the pavilion.

Young's Factory Worker ennobles the industrial laborer. Few other American sculptors have better represented the laborer in action; bone, brawn, and sweat. Young depicted the farmer, the blacksmith, and the scrub woman all as heroes of progress.

Biography courtesy of The Springville Museum of Art.


Adams, Henry. American Drawings and Watercolors from the Kansas City Region. Kansas City, MO: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1992.

Armstrong, Tom. 200 years of American Sculpture. Boston, MA: D. R. Godine, 1976.

Baigell, Mathew. American Painting and Sculpture. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1984.

Baur, John I. H. The Whitney Museum and its Collection: History, Purpose, and Activities [and] Catalogue of the Collection. New York, NY: Whitney Museum of Art, 1974.

Bolger, Doreen. American Pastels in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Distributed by H.N. Abrams, 1989.

Broder, Patricia Janis. Bronzes of the American West. New York, NY: H. N. Abrams, 1973.

Brown, Milton W. The Story of the Armory Show. Greenwich, CT: Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation: Distributed by the New York Graphic Society, 1963.

Brown, Milton W. American Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Decorative Arts, Photography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979.

Cahill, Holger, and Alfred H. Barr, eds. Art in America: In Modern Times (1865-1934). New York, NY: Reynal and Hitchcock 1934.

Columbus Museum of Art. The American Collections, Columbus Museum of Art. Columbus, OH: The Museum, in association with H.N. Abrams, New York, 1988.

Craven, Thomas, ed. A Treasury of American Prints: A Selection of One Hundred Etchings and Lithographs by the Foremost Living American Artists. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1939.

Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. New York, NY: H.N. Abrams, 1994.

Davenport, Ray. Davenport's Art Reference. Ventura, CA: Davenport's Art Reference, 2001.

Davis, Norma S. A Song of Joys: The Biography of Mahonri Mackintosh Young, Sculptor, Painter, Etcher. Provo, UT: M. Seth and Maurine D. Horne, Center for the Study of Art, Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1999.

Dawdy, Doris. Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary. Chicago, IL: Sage Books, 1990.

Deeds, Daphne Anderson. Arizona Collects Twentieth Century Painting: Tucson Museum of Art, January 19-March 23, 1986. Tucson, AZ: Tucson Museum of Art, 1986.

Dodd, Loring Holmes. With an Eye on the Gallery: American Painters in Oil. Cambridge, MA: Dresser, Chapman & Grimes, 1966.

Doumato, Lamia. American Drawing: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1979.

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson, ed. The Artists Bluebook: 29,000 North American Artists. Scottsdale, AZ: AskART, 2003.

Dykes, Jeff. Fifty Great Western Illustrators: A Bibliographic Checklist. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press, 1975.

Ekdahl, Janis. American Sculpture: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co, 1977.

Falk, Peter Hastings. The Annual Exhibition Record of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1988-1989.

Falk, Peter Hastings. The Annual Exhibition Record of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1888-1950. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Annual Exhibition Record, 1901-1919: National Academy of Design. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1990.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

Feld, Stuart P., and Mario Cooper. 200 Years of Watercolor Painting in America: An Exhibition Commemorating the Centennial of the American Watercolor Society, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, December 8, 1966 to January 29, 1967. New York, NY: The Museum, 1967.

Fielding, Mantle, and Glenn B. Opitz, eds. Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers. 2nd ed. Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1986.

Fink, Lois Marie. Academy: The Academic Tradition in American Art: An Exhibition Organized on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the National Academy of Design, 1825-1975: Catalog. Washington, DC: The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1975.

Fort, Ilene, and Michael Quick. American Art: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection. Seattle, WA: Distributed by University of Washington Press, 1991.

Gerdts, William H. Art Across America: Two Centuries of Regional Painting, 1710-1920. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1990.

Harmsen, Dorothy. American Western Art: A Collection of One Hundred Twenty-five Western Paintings and Sculpture with Biographies of the Artists. Salt Lake City, UT: Lakeside Press, 1977

Hayes, Bartlett H. Jr. The Naked Truth and Personal Vision: A Discussion About the Length of the Artistic Road. Andover, MA: Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, 1955.

Johnson, Una E. Golden Years of American Drawings, 1905-1956: [exhibition] January 22 to March 17, 1957. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Museum, 1957.

Karpel, Bernard, and Ruth Spiegel. Arts in America: A Bibliography. Washington, DC: Published for the Archives of American Art by the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979.

Kuh, Katherine. The Art Collection of the First National Bank of Chicago. Chicago, IL: The First National Bank of Chicago, 1974.

Larkin, Oliver W. Art and Life in America. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.

Mendelowitz, Daniel M. A History of American Art. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960.

Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute. The Olympics in Art: An Exhibition of Works of Art Related to Olympic Sports, January 13 through March 2, 1980, Museum of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York. Utica, NY: The Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, 1980.

Norman, Kent, ed. Drawings by American Artists. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications, Inc., 1947.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Opitz, Glenn B., ed. Dictionary of American Sculptors: 18th Century to the Present: Illustrated With over 200 Photographs. Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo, 1984.

Spiegel, R.W., ed. Phillips Collection in the Making, 1920-1930: An Exhibition. Washington, DC: The Service, 1979.

Porter, Allen, and William A. McGonagle. The Thirties Decade: American Artists and their European Contemporaries. Omaha, NE: Joslyn Art Museum, 1971.

Reese, Albert. American Prize Prints of the 20th Century. New York, NY: American Artists Group, 1949.

Rhodes, Reilly. Sport in Art from American Museums: The Director's Choice: Inaugural Exhibition of the National Art Museum of Sport. New York, NY: Universe, 1990.

Rugoff, Milton. Encyclopedia of American Art. New York, NY: Dutton, 1981.

Schlier, Deborah. Selections from Gertrude: Vandeveer Spratlen Collection. Springfield, MT: The Museum, 1997.

Sims, Lowery Stokes. The Figure in 20th Century American Art: Selections from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Exhibition. New York, NY: The Federation, 1984.

Slatkin, Charles, and R. Schoolman. Treasury of American Drawings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1947.

Springville Museum of Art. Permanent Collection Catalog. Springville, UT: Springville Museum of Art, 1972.

Strickler, Susan. American Traditions in Watercolor: The Worcester Art Museum Collection. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1987.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Art. Layton, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1992.

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 Painting and Sculpture. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1991.

Tone, Thomas E. Mahonri Young: His Life and Art. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996.

Vaughn, Reese. Read Mullan Gallery of Western Art. Phoenix, AZ: The Gallery, 1964.

Young, Mahonri Macintosh. Catalogue: Complete Collection of Etchings by Mahonri Young: On Exhibition at the C.W. Kraushaar Art Galleries, New York: March 12th to 30th 1935. New York, NY: Kraushaar Art Galleries, 1935.

Zigrosser, Carl. The Artist in America: Twenty-four Close-ups of Contemporary Printmakers. New York, NY: A.A. Knopf, 1942.


Art News. "Art Market." Art News, October 1995.

Gibbs Linda Jones. "150 Years of American Painting." American Art Review, October 1995.

Swanson Vern G. "150 Years of Utah Art." Southwest Art, January 2002.

 Last Modified 6/20/18