DescriptionWILLIAM HERBERT (BUCK) DUNTON (American 1878-1936)
In the Tetons
Oil on canvas
14-1/8 x 14-1/8 inches (35.9 x 35.9 cm)
Signed lower right: Dunton
Old paper label on verso: In the Tetons / by / W. Herbert Dunton
Acquired directly from the artist by the parents of the present owner of Dallas, Texas
In the Tetons relates to a group of elk paintings and a lithograph that William Herbert "Buck" Dunton produced between 1925 and his death in 1936, including his well-known October in the Canyon Bottom (National Museum of Wildlife Art) and Elk in the Aspens (Harrison Eiteljorg collection on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum). Dunton was a contract meat hunter who operated in Montana and Wyoming in the late 1890s, and somewhat later in the Sangre de Cristos as an organizer of pack-horse trips. He hunted elk for much of his life and knew them perhaps better - inside and out - than any artist in the West. For his art, Dunton shot animals only when it was absolutely necessary. After making numerous sketches of the animal, both living and dead, he would skin the animal often allowing it to freeze in a particular position in order to study its musculature.
After he had become head of the Taos fish and game conservancy in the late teens, and his health began to fail in the 1920s, Dunton preferred to "dry" hunt. He only "took" big game with palette and brush, pencil and paper. In fact, he gave a radio address in
Kansas City in 1924 called "Hunt But Don't Kill All". Moreover, beginning in the mid-1920s, mature works such as In the Tetons give an increased prominence to the elk. Perhaps at some level this shift functioned as a sort of compensation for his no longer hunting the animal. In the Tetons belongs to a group of oils Dunton painted during the mid-to-late 1920s which measure 14 inches square. He found this to be an attractive format for his wild and domesticated animal subjects including not simply elk, but deer, black bears, and grizzlies.
Literature on this painting:
In her 1985 study of Dunton, Julie Schimmel lists In the Tetons as unlocated, but formerly owned by Dr. Rice Jackson of Houston. Schimmel also erroneously reproduced another Dunton painting (On the Great Plains) as In the Tetons (Schimmel, 1985, p. 105). While researching Dunton for the Texas chapter of his Taos Artists and Their Patrons, 1898-1950 (Notre Dame, 1999), Michael R. Grauer located In the Tetons in 1998 in a private collection. He learned that the painting had been in the same family collection since the late 1920s. Dunton toured In the Tetons along with a group of his paintings through Texas in 1925 and 1926. For an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in March 1925, In the Tetons was reproduced on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.
We are grateful to Michael R. Grauer for his kind assistance in cataloguing the present work.
Overall very good condition, craquelure and minor stretcher impressions
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2017 October 13 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas