Western Art was a creative form produced in America starting in the 1880s. It followed the course of Western expansion that was promoted by the U.S. government.
People in the Eastern states were excited by happenings in this new territory. They read news stories and serial novels in their newspapers. They purchased Dime Novels. These described exploits of daring cowboys, traders and explorers in the Wild West! What more could add to their vicarious experiences? Wild West Art!
Western art provided superior visualization of this Western land. People got a good look at the vistas, the people and the activities of these distant adventures.
Even today, many people in the U.S. - even worldwide - love and collect Western art. In our family home, we have some Western themed artwork on our walls. Our family members also love this style of art. Especially those who live out West.
Tombstone Arizona supports its own style of Western Artwork. On Allen Street, near the corner of Fourth Street is the Tombstone Art Gallery. It features artists and crafts persons from the local area.
During the holiday season it has many wonderful and unique items that can be used for gift-giving. In February they sponsor a month long event. We update the details for their Tombstone Quilt Show when it is near - Read More>
Lots of artists painted, drew, and sculpted works that reflected Western culture. Two are the most prolific, probably the most talented and the most famous. They were Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
Born in 1861 in Canton N.Y., he was an only child. His father was in the Civil War, rising to a Colonel's rank. He hoped Frederic would attend West Point. But he wasn't a good student. Instead he showed early artistic talent. His top subjects were cowboys, horses and soldiers. He was athletic: involved in swimming, horse-back riding, hunting, camping.
He thought he'd be a journalist and involve some art work. He attended Yale art school, but wasn't serious. He was distracted by their sporting programs. He continued drawing on his own time - his own subjects, which differed from the classroom.
He left school when his father contracted TB. After his father died, he worked miscellaneous odd jobs. Then in 1881 he took a trip to Montana for possible involvement in mining and cattle. He was enthralled actually seeing things he'd heard about all his life. From that trip he published his first drawing in Harper's Weekly.
Next he tried ranching in Kansas. It didn't suit him. A year later he was at home back East, where he married his hometown sweetheart. They went West where he became half-owner of a saloon in Kansas City. There they settled down. All the while he'd continued sketching the Western life surrounding him. Cowboys, saloon patrons, etc. His wife was unhappy with this life and left, going back East.
The saloon wasn't bringing in much income. So he began to paint even more seriously now. He began to sell paintings in the area. He decided to return to his hometown.
He and his wife reconciled. He signed up for courses at The Art Student's League in New York. That was much more to his style, I think, from reading of his life. As a young woman I took an art class there myself!
He promoted his life in the West with gusto and exaggeration. Harper's Weekly and Collier's liked this "authenticity" and gave his work attention. His Uncle Bill was impressed, and gave him financial support to continue his art studies.Frederic Remington - The Complete Works - Slideshow - frederic-remington.org
C.M. Russell was born in St. Louis MO on March 19, 1864. In his boyhood years he was exposed to explorers and adventurers heading West. It sparked his imagination. He read the stories in papers and novels. He learned to ride horses from an army colonel. All the while he drew pictures of wild west scenes and made small clay sculptures of Western figures.
At age 16 he quit school to move to Montana for work on a sheep ranch. It didn't work out and he went to work for another rancher. That man, Jake Hoover, had a spread in Judith Basin, Montana. He was experienced in hunting and trapping, and mentored Charles in cowboy ranching. They became friends for life.
He worked for other Montana ranches. Russell documented his Western experiences through his art. He spent about a year living with a tribe of Blackfeet Nation.
Charles met Nancy, 14 years his junior, whom he married in 1896. She was instrumental in getting his work into the limelight. In this way he became famous and was able to make his artwork his living.
People also knew him as Charlie Russell and Kid Russell. They also called him the Cowboy Artist. His works were prolific. They're worth into the millions today. Besides Western Art, he also wrote and recited stories.
He remained in Cascade, Montana for his later life. He expired there on October 24, 1926, from congestive heart failure. Great Falls, Montana students were let out of school to pay their respects on the day of his funeral.
A few other artists were contemporaries of Remington and Russell. Although not quite as popular, or as well-known, they are worth mentioning.
Aficionados of Western art often look for specific types of subject matter. They may want to complete their collection with works they still don't have. Or they may only specialize in one type of category. Some people may only be able to buy one or two pieces for their home, and choose a type they love most.
Here's a listing of the types of Western art you may find for sale, on auction, in museums, or in collections:
You don't have to be wealthy to have Western art for your home. Some types are a little more common-place. You can decorate a special room with a Western theme with this type of art. Do you have a Game Room or Media Room with a bar or a Western Theme? This is an ideal area for decorating with this type of Western styled artwork.
Some suggestions are:
1 Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied (1843-1844). Published in English translation. London: Achermann & Comp.