DescriptionWILLIAM HERBERT (BUCK) DUNTON (American 1878-1936)
Summer Silhouette, circa 1926
Oil on canvas
14 x 14 inches (35.56 x 35.56 cm)
Signed lower left: Dunton
Inscribed on the reverse in paint: "Summer Silhouette" / by W. Herbert Dunton; in pen: Taos. New Mexico, and lower in pencil: Oil Painting / Catalogue - No. 7 - / $450.00 / 1927?
Bessie Heard (McKinney, Texas);
Bessie Heard Trust
William Herbert "Buck" Dunton was a precocious illustrator who left school at the age of sixteen to pursue his art full time. His illustrations appeared in books and magazines such as Scribner's, Collier's and Harper's Weekly, among others. The proceeds from these ventures funded his summer trips West, beginning in Montana in 1896. In fact, these summer excursions were inspired as much by his love of the outdoors as for his need for fresh ideas for the Western imagery his new profession required of him.
Dunton attended the Cowles Art School in Boston and the Art Students League in New York City, where he studied under Joseph de Camp and Ernest Blumenschein. It was Blumenschein who first suggested Taos to Dunton, and the latter permanently relocated there in 1912. Together with Oscar Berninghaus, E. Irving Couse, William Herbert "Buck" Dunton, Bert G. Phillips and Joseph H. Sharp, Blumenschein founded the Taos Society of Artists in 1915. Their mission was to sell paintings depicting the people and environs that had captured their imaginations, although the lack of local galleries resulted in a number of traveling exhibitions, which in the end brought their work to a wider public.
In 1922 Dunton left the Taos Society of Artists to pursue an independent career. Giving full rein to his nostalgia for the golden age of the West and the vanishing frontier, Dunton captured nature and cowboys with romance and sensitivity by harnessing a powerful sense of two-dimensional graphic design. The present work embodies Dunton's marvelous feeling for nature and its inhabitants in the whimsical arrangement of the black bears against a verdant landscape with a majestic tree. A characteristic late work possessing strong decorative elements and a brilliant palette, this painting relates to Mother Bear and Three Cubs in the Stark Museum (Orange, TX) and Deer Hunters' Camp of 1926 in the Rockwell Museum of Western Art (Corning, NY). Summer Silhouette is an exemplary work from the choice collection of Bessie Heard, whose dedication to and passion for nature was the inspiration for her collecting. The Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary (McKinney, TX) continues to carry on her mission and dedication today.
Normal signs of wear as appropriate with age, and a 1/4 x 1/4 inch paint loss right of center along the top edge.
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