Photographic realism in the work of artist Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh provided him an early career documenting expeditions into the American West. Dellenbaugh's life would be a series of journeys and explorations that provided him with an endless array of material for his paintings and etchings.
He showed an early talent in art, and after graduating from high school John Wesley Powell hired the young man as artist on an exploratory voyage down the Colorado River, from 1871 to 1873. This resulted in the first maps of the Grand Canyon. It was also during this journey that Dellenbaugh began to keep a detailed daily journal.
From 1873 to 1875 he travelled on his own, wandering southern Utah, northern Arizona, and Nevada. Then, in 1877 he travelled to Munich for formal art training at the Royal Academy. He then went to Paris and studied under Auguste Carolus-Duran at the Academie Julian.
When he returned in 1884 he spent six months living with the Hopi Indians. By 1885 however he was back in New York, where he married and settled permanently. He spent the next decade writing, lecturing and doing research on Western exploration, Indians and the Colorado River. All of his work sold well, and were frequently used as illustrations for history books. The artist would also publish portions of his own journals and books about the American West that he illustrated as well.
The Dellenbaughs spent their summers in the Cragsmoor art community, where he served as architect for the community's new buildings - including a chapel and library.
His final journeys would occur between 1899 and 1906, taking in the coast of Alaska, all the way to Siberia and Norway as well as final trips to the American West.
He exhibited widely during his life, including the Paris Salons. His paintings and drawings are in the collections of many important museums.