Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 16:1 (Winter 1996). Copyright © 1996 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Robert Henri's life story would have appealed to Mari Sandoz even if he were not an important early twentieth-century American artist. Robert Henri (born Robert Henry Cozad) came from a time, a place, and a family that at first glance seem unlikely to have produced an avant garde painter of landscapes, cityscapes, and portraits; it was the sort of paradox Sandoz liked to explore. That Henri had spent much of his youth in her native Nebraska in a family headed by a magnetic and dominating man not unlike her own father also interested her. That the family left Nebraska in disgrace made the story even more intriguing. The result of Sandoz's fascination was her 1960 historical novel, Son of the Gamblin' Man.