Biography: Born in Germany, Wilhelm Heinrich Detlev Koerner (1878-1938) arrived with his family in Clinton, Iowa, in 1881. After initial studies there, he began work as a staff artist on the Chicago Tribune. He studied at the Francis Smith Art Academy in Chicago in 1900 and attended classes at the Chicago Art Institute in 1901; two years later he became assistant art editor at the Tribune.
After moving to Battle Creek, Michigan, Koerner became art editor and illustrator for Pilgrim: A Magazine for the Home. In 1905, Korner moved to Detroit, where he became art editor for the short-lived newspaper United States Daily. After another brief stay at the Chicago Tribune, Koerner moved to New York, where he studied at the Art Students League in 1905-06 with George Bridgman. In 1907 he was accepted at Howard Pyle's school in Wilmington DE as a student in the weekly composition class. He rented a studio, close to neighboring Pyle pupils Anton Otto Fischer, Mary Ellen Sigsbee Ker, and William H. Foster.
After Pyle died in 1911, Koerner exhibited in the first annual exhibition of his students in Wilmington. With his wife Lillian Lusk, whom he had married in 1903, Koerner moved several times in the Wilmington area until the family, now including a son and daughter, settled in Interlaken, New Jersey. From his studio there, Koerner became well known, primarily as an illustrator of scenes of characters and stories of the American West. He regularly traveled to the West throughout his career. He worked until 1935, and died in 1938.
Koerner's reconstructed studio is now part of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center at Cody, Wyoming.
Source: A Small School of Art. Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth H. Hawkes. Delaware Art Museum. 1980.