A painter remembered most for his beach scene paintings of carefree atmosphere, Edward Potthast was one of the significant 19th-century American artists from Cincinnati, which at the time of his birth was a burgeoning art center. It was also a place of refuge for German immigrants including the Potthast family.
A native of Ohio, Edward Potthast worked early in his career as apprentice to a lithographer and as an illustrator. Potthast studied art at the McMicken School of Design, now part of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, then traveled to Europe to study painting in Munich, Antwerp, and Paris, where the oil paintings of the French Impressionists influenced his style. In 1892, Potthast moved to New York City where he won the Clarke Prize at the National Academy and many other honors.
Potthast worked as an illustrator for Harpers magazine. Although assignments for Harpers often sent him west, his first trip to Grand Canyon, in 1910, was sponsored by the Santa Fe Railway. Potthast painted landscape paintings of the Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon, and other western scenes. Potthast paintings were exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. He founded the "Society of Men Who Paint the West."
His studio was primarily in New York City, but in 1912, Potthast spent extensive time in Europe where he enrolled in Academies in Munich, Antwerp and Paris. Potthast divided his time between illustrations for "Harper’s" and "Scribner’s" magazines but later gave up illustration for full time fine art. Potthast was an exceedingly private person who died at his easel.