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Olaf C. Seltzer

Alternate Term

Seltzer, Olaf C.




born in Danemark, active in United States


Olaf Seltzer was born in 1877, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Revealing early talent at the age of 12, Seltzer enrolled in the Danish Art School and Polytechnic Institute, a preparatory school for the Danish Royal Academy in Copenhagen. Two years later, upon his father's death, he and his mother immigrated to Great Falls, Montana. In 1892, Seltzer worked as a cowboy on a ranch. From 1893 until 1926, he worked as a locomotive repairman for the Great Northern Railroad. Seltzer sketched and drew all his life and, at age 20, he began painting in oil. In 1897, Seltzer met an invaluable friend and mentor, Charles Russell. Russell immediately recognized Seltzer's talent and invited him to join sketching expeditions throughout the west. In 1921, as a result of the postwar recession, Seltzer was laid off from the railroad and turned to painting full-time. After Russell's death in 1926, he traveled to New York to complete some of Russell's commissions. Seltzer stayed in New York for two years, studying art and visiting museums as well as galleries. In 1930, Dr. Philip Cole commissioned Seltzer to do a series of one hundred miniatures on the history of Montana.

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