Tom Lea

1907 – 2001

Tom Lea


El Paso, Texas


Illustration, cattle ranching scene painting, mural

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Tom Lea was a painter, illustrator, muralist, teacher, writer and commercial artist. Many of his paintings depicted scenes from Texas, although his career ranged beyond his home state.

During his youth, he spent many summers working on ranches in both Texas and New Mexico. At age seventeen he enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, and from 1926 to 1933, worked there as a mural assistant to John Warner Norton. After the war, Lea returned to El Paso and continued with mural and canvas painting and illustrations. He did a series of canvases on the evolution of the cattle industry and wrote extensively on the beef industry including a history, The King Ranch, published in 1957.