An impressive array of Art of The American West and Texas will take center stage at Heritage Auction Galleries’ Slocum Street Annex on July 16 for the 2009 Signature® July Auction. Led by William Herbert Dunton’s 1908 masterwork Badger Hole (The Spill), from the Charles Martignette Collection of Illustration Art, the auction will amply demonstrate why Heritage is the go-to auction house for fine examples of American West and Texas art.
“Badger Hole (The Spill) is one of the finest examples of an early Dunton painting that has come on the open market in recent years,” said Michael Duty, Director, Art of the America West at Heritage, “and is indicative of the outstanding quality of the Martignette collection, the provenance of 25 other lots in this auction.”
William Herbert “Buck” Dunton was born in Maine in 1878 and became a well respected and successful illustrator in New York City. It was in Montana in 1896, however, that he found his true calling when he fell deeply in love with the Old West, which would remain his subject of choice for the remainder of his life. When Dunton grew tired of the pressures and demands of New York, he moved to Taos in 1912 where he became one of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists. Once in New Mexico he accepted very few illustration commissions and focused more on preserving the life of the Old West through his art until his death in 1936. The Spill, a compelling oil on canvas, stands out among Dunton’s work for many reasons: the richness of the color, the incredible action of the horse and rider, its place in the seminal period in the artist’s life just before he permanently moved west and for the accuracy with which it portrays life in the romanticized West of America’s past. Even in its violence and drama — something for which Dunton is noted — there is a fluidness of motion and mastery of composition that adds a fine art quality to the canvas that adds to the artist’s transformation from magazine illustrator to important American painter. It is estimated to bring $80,000-$120,000.
“In terms of important Western art in this auction, minus Dunton, we have to turn to 1907 and Harvey T. Dunn’s The Plowman, also from The Martignette Collection,” said Duty. “This is a rare masterpiece from the early period of Dunn’s career that is striking for the authenticity with which it portrays life on the open prairie. Dunn, who grew up in South Dakota, was one of only a few western artists who concentrated on the pioneer aspect of our western history.”
Dunn is best known as an illustrator but was also a teacher and a graphic reporter on the front lines of World War I. The Plowman is only one of a handful of known examples of Dunn’s early work, from 1906-1910, and is the artist’s earliest prairie field and oxen painting known to exist. It was also the front cover for Outing Magazine, May 1908. The painting is estimated at $40,000+.
One of the greatest illustrators from America’s Golden Age of Illustration, J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951), will be represented in the July 16 auction with the oil painting, Two O’Clock, originally an ad illustration for the E. Howard Watch Company of Boston that ran in The Century, Scribner’s, McClure’s, and the Saturday Evening Post. Even with a subject as untidy as the American West, Leyendecker’s subjects still bear his characteristic utility of line, neatness of appearance and purpose of intent. It is estimated at $20,000+.
The Texas Art portion of the auction offers several treats for collectors of the form, but none more so perhaps than Olin Travis’s (American, 1888-1975) 1955 masterpiece Lakeside.
“There are moments in the creative life of every artist when they produce a work which distinguishes itself from the rest of their oeuvre” said Atlee Phillips, Consignment Director, Texas Art at Heritage. “Lakeside is just such a painting — a masterpiece of Texas Modernism. It is an artwork that furthers our understanding of Texas Regionalism and its place in context of the larger modernist movement.”
As the rediscovery of American Regional Modernism continues, so has the interest in the brightest lights of Texas Modernism. Paintings executed with as much skill and vision as Lakeside prove that Travis, like many “Texas” artists, are American Modernists first, painters that defy the limitations of the “Regionalist” label. It carries an estimate of $10,000-$15,000.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
Frank Earle Schoonover (1877-1972), Indian with Squaw in Canoe, 1927:
Oil on canvas, 38 x 26 inches
William Henry Dethlef Koerner (1878-1938), Riding the Range, 1909:
Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches
Martin Grelle (American, b. 1954), Winter Blanket:
Oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches
Julian Onderdonk (1882-1922), Evening Near Jackson, Southwest Texas, 1926:
Oil on canvas, 16 x 24 inches
Everett Franklin Spruce, (1908-2002), After the Rainstorm, 1990:
Acrylic on masonite, 20 x 24 inches
Robert William Wood (1889-1979), Bluebonnets, 1933:
Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches
For more information on the Art of The American West & Texas auction, to read detailed descriptions of these, and any other lots, and to download full-color, enlargeable images, go online to www.HA.com/5019
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Image: WILLIAM HERBERT DUNTON (American, 1878-1936)
The Badger Hole (The Spill), 1906
Oil on canvas
28 x 19 inches (71.1 x 48.3 cm)
Signed lower right: W. Herbert Dunton / ’06