Image courtesy of the Jerry Bywaters Collections in the Hamon Arts Library at SMU.

What did undeveloped Oak Cliff look like?

Many written descriptions exalt its natural beauty — verdant hills, plentiful creeks and springs, old stonewalls and dirt roads.

But there also are images.

In the early 1900s, artist Edward Gustav Eisenlohr lived in Oak Cliff and painted landscapes of Dallas, including many from the banks of the Trinity River.

Eisenlohr was born in Ohio in 1872, and his family moved to Dallas two years later.

The family roomed in Dallas’ first hotel, the Crutchfield House. Later they built a two-story white stone building at the corner of Main and Field. Eisenlohr’s father, Rudolph, ran a pharmacy on the first floor, and the family lived on the second story.

Eisenlohr’s mother, Emma, was artistically inclined, and he started drawing at a young age. At 13 he won a blue ribbon at the State Fair of Texas for a pencil drawing of a map of Texas.

In the late 1880s the family moved to Europe for their children’s education, and Eisenlohr studied in Germany and Switzerland.

When they moved back to Dallas, they settled in Oak Cliff, and Eisenlohr took a job as a bookkeeper at the American Exchange Bank. But he kept up his art studies on nights and weekends under the guidance of Frank Reaugh and Robert J. Onderdonk.

In the early 1900s, he had solo exhibitions at the Cincinnati Museum of Fine Art and the Museum of Fine Art in Santa Fe.

Throughout his career, Eisenlohr created more than 1,000 drawings, watercolors, pastels, oil paintings and lithographs of early 20th Century Dallas.

He never married or had children. He died in 1961 and is buried in Oak Cliff Cemetery.

Since his death, Eisenlohr’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Museum of New Mexico. His paintings, drawings and lithographs are part of the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Elizabet Ney Museum in Austin and the Witte Museum in San Antonio, among others.