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John Ford Clymer (American, 1907-1989)

Also known as:  John F. Clymer; Clymer, John Ford

John Ford Clymer fully immersed himself in the historic details that would accurately convey western narratives. Throughout his career as a highly successful illustrator for publications like the Saturday Evening Post, and later as an acclaimed member of the Cowboy Artists of America. Clymer developed an effective process for portraying the history of the American West accurately. First, he and his wife would painstakingly research the subject of the painting, down to the smallest details of setting, climate, and historic period. After completing their research, they would then travel to the proposed site for the painting to get a firsthand feeling of the area. That attention to historic detail and first hand observation of the actual environment is what gives paintings like The Raiding Party such power and believability.

Clymer's career in many ways parallels the development of the Art of the American West in the twentieth century. Born in the Pacific Northwest, he showed a natural talent for drawing at an early age and sold his first illustrations when he was only sixteen. Later he studied with some of the true luminaries of the great age of American illustration, including Harvey Dunn. At that time, most artists who depicted the history of the West did so in the employ of magazines and book publishers. Clymer became one of the most sought after in that field. By the early 1960s, western art collectors increasingly began to branch out from buying works by historic artists to seeking paintings by living artists. Encouraged by this emerging market for western art, Clymer left his career as an illustrator and turned his attention towards painting the history of the West on a full-time basis. He was asked to join the Cowboy Artists of America early in that organization's development and became one of its most celebrated members.

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