DescriptionFRANK REAUGH (American, 1860-1945)
Sheepherders Camp, 1893
Pastel on paper laid on canvas
20 x 40 inches (50.8 x 101.6 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: F Reaugh / 93
St. Louis Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, September 1893;
St. Louis Museum of Fine Arts, St. Louis, Missouri, December 1894;
Lorado Taft's Studio, Chicago, Illinois, sponsored by Chicago's Central Art Association, March 1895;
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, "7th Annual Exhibition: Watercolors, Pastels, and Miniatures by American Artists," 1895.
This lot is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Michael Grauer.
"...Sheepherder's Camp is the most important Frank Reaugh painting to emerge since his Breezy Morning appeared a few years ago."-Michael Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/ Curator of Art at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and eminent Frank Reaugh scholar.
Frank Reaugh was an artist who devoted his considerable artistic skills to impressionistic depictions of West Texas. He has been called the "Dean of Texas Artists" because in the 1890s, the first of many art students began accompanying him on his frequent West Texas sketching trips. Most of Reaugh's pastels are small in size, and therefore, well adapted to transport and use in open country. This allowed him to travel the vast expanses of the state easily and to work in the outdoors with relatively little fuss. His pastel landscapes are considered some of the most poetic depictions of Texas ever produced, but the vast majority are less than 5 x 10 inches. Frank Reaugh pastels the size of Sheepherder's Camp (20 x 40") are extremely rare and almost never become available on the open market.
Sheepherder's Camp is the larger version of a pastel in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum collection. Reaugh often sketched a scene in the field and enlarged it once in the studio, sometimes years later. However, in the case of Sheepherder's Camp, both pastels are dated 1893. According to his handwritten ledger of paintings, Reaugh sketched in pencil and pastel the scene depicted in Sheepherder's Camp in November 1892. In the entry particular to this larger work, he indicated it was "designed [in] Nov[ember] 92" and finished it in April 1893.
Reaugh lent the larger pastel to the Texas & Pacific Railway for promotional purposes and in September 1893, the T & P exhibited the landscape at the Saint Louis Exposition. Sheepherder's Camp was included in Reaugh's first solo exhibition at a major national venue at the Saint Louis Museum of Fine Arts in December 1894. In March 1895, this piece was part of a Reaugh exhibition at Chicago sculptor Lorado Taft's studio, sponsored by Chicago's Central Art Association. This exhibition received excellent reviews in the Chicago Sunday Inter-Ocean and Chicago Record newspapers. Reaugh scored another triumph when he exhibited Sheepherder's Camp in the "7th annual exhibition of watercolors, pastels, and miniatures by American artists" at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1895.
Frank Reaugh's mastery of Tonalist technique is on full display in Sheepherders Camp. His expert handling of the wispy clouds suffused with pinks and lavenders is unparalleled. Moreover his depiction of a relatively unexplored part of the American West-sheepherding-underscores his commitment to veracity. Finally, the mounted sheepherder himself is borrowed from Reaugh's own 1889 Watering the Herd, and he adds a sheepdog for good measure. Most of this information is included in the accompanying Certificate of Authenticity provided by Michael Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum and eminent Frank Reaugh scholar. According to him, "...Sheepherder's Camp is the most important Frank Reaugh painting to emerge since his Breezy Morning appeared a few years ago. This is a museum-quality painting and it would make an excellent addition to any early Texas, Western, and/or American art collection."
The work presents a lively surface of activity by both the artist's specific techniques and outside elements, most of which appear to be from water staining; most notable discoloration visible along lower left edge, and in the upper right quadrant (on the reverse of stretcher there appears to be soiling to the wood); a few scattered small dots of foxing in lower left quadrant, as well as small notches of paper/pigment loss with small cracks at lower left edge and at upper left corner; two small thumb prints in upper left, most likely from the artist; frame wear with pigment loss due to rubbing; otherwise, this pastel work remains stunning, especially considering the age and media.
*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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