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WILLIAM ROBINSON LEIGH (American, 1866-1955)
The Mesa Trail, 1950
Watercolor with gum arabic on paper laid on canvas
16 x 20 inches (40.6 x 50.8 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: W.R. Leigh / 1950
Titled on stretcher: The Mesa Trail
Label verso: The Mesa Trail, W.R. Leigh


This painting retains its original Heydenryk frame with artist's inscription verso Property of W. R. Leigh.

Condition Report*:

The watercolor paper appears to have been adhered to the canvas along the outer edges prior to painting. The paint layer has been well preserved with only minimal frame abrasion noticeable at edges. There are several minor nicks to the paper at the upper center edge, with a smudge of surface dirt visible to the right of this region.  There is a very slight vertical scratch running parallel to the central right edge approximately four inches in length. Framed under glass.  Framed Dimensions 25 X 29 Inches

Leigh, William Robinson:William Robinson Leigh was born in 1866 and grew up in rural West Virginia where he showed a very early aptitude for art. Born into a family that had lost their fortune in the Civil War, Leigh was able to attend the Maryland Institute in Baltimore at the age of fourteen through the generosity of his aunt and uncle. He excelled at the institute and left to study at the Royal Academy in Munich only a few years later. He studied in Germany for another 12 years and returned to America with a mastery of the techniques of the Old European masters. While he had long dreamed of venturing into the American West to stoke his artistic imagination, the necessity of earning a living led to his decade long work as an illustrator for the leading illustrated publications of the day, such as Collier's and Scribner's. Like his contemporary Frederic Remington, Leigh bristled at the constraints and lack of creativity in terms of subject matter and style that were necessary in the illustration market. He felt that his true artistic talent would not reach its full potential until he could put aside his work as an illustrator. In 1897, he had made a brief trip to Wyoming for Scribner's magazine to gather material for a story on western wheat farmers. That trip whetted his appetite for more travels in the West, but economic necessity would keep him away from fulfilling that dream until 1906, when he entered into a mutually beneficial arrangement with the Santa Fe Railroad. In exchange for free passage to the Southwest, Leigh agreed to paint images of the Grand Canyon and other western subjects for use in the Railroad's advertising campaigns. Leigh had been invited by a friend from his Munich days to visit Laguna, New Mexico, and his contract with the Santa Fe railroad allowed him to spend several weeks soaking up the Southwestern landscape and culture. That initial trip was profoundly influential on his career and development as an artist. During the next several years, he traveled extensively in the Southwest, including the Yellowstone territory of Wyoming and Montana. While both Remington and Russell had highly successful but relatively brief careers, Leigh captured the beauty and drama of the American West with consistent quality for almost fifty years. In many ways his career marked the end of one era, the nineteenth century heyday of the great western illustrators and eye-witness artists, and the beginning of another, the modern era of contemporary western artists. For serious collectors of western art, Renegade at Bay stands as one of Leigh's most accomplished paintings from his mature period.

*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
November, 2013
14th Thursday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,258

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