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    HOWARD A. TERPNING (American, b. 1927)
    Slim Chance, 1978
    Oil on canvas
    24 x 40 inches (61.0 x 101.6 cm)
    Signed and dated lower left: © / Terpning / 1978
    Signed, titled and inscribed verso: "Slim Chance" 24 x 40 / All reproduction rights / To this painting are / Retained by the / Artist Howard Terpning / HA Terpning


    Slim Chance, underscores Terpning's interest in the Plains Indians' complicated relationship with white trappers and traders during the 1800s. On the one hand, the Indians were highly resentful of mountain men who had infiltrated their land and were plundering their resources, killing animals and selling their furs, hides, and pelts for profit. On the other hand, by the mid-nineteenth century, Indians were benefitting from goods, like firearms, imported by white settlers and had consequently developed mutually beneficial trade agreements. Terpning shows both sides of this relationship in his paintings - animosity and amiability. For example, in When Careless Spells Disaster (1987) two trappers and their horses taking refreshment by a riverbank are caught off guard as a stealthy band of Blackfeet emerges out of the forest, and in Hasty Retreat (2011) two Crows stumble upon a trapper's campfire, just minutes after his having fled and abandoned his hat and meal. Oppositely, in A Friendly Game of Rendezvous - 1832 (2004) a jovial group of trappers and Native Americans play cards on an outdoor table at Pierre's Hole in the Tetons, having assembled to trade goods for the winter months ahead.

    From 1977-79, Terpning produced a series of paintings, including Slim Chance (1978), depicting Northern Plains Indians and trappers variously interfacing on open grasslands, with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. For example, in Traveling in Good Company (1978), a trapper and a Crow scout work together, protecting their goods and each other as they traverse the landscape on horseback; in The Ploy (1978) a band of Crow warriors works against a single trapper, speedily encircling him with their horses and threateningly brandishing their spears. Like The Ploy, Slim Chance shows a lone trapper caught - literally in the center of the composition - by the Indian enemy. Scruffy and hatless, the trapper holds his rifle in front of him as a last line of defense and tries to reason with the two Indians confronting him; yet the restless circling of the horsemen behind him does not bode well for his future. All of these paintings share a similar tiered compositional format, where a deep foreground of yellow grasses supports a line of human interaction in the center, this offset by distant mountains and a sky with atmospheric mist or clouds. All of these paintings also demonstrate Terpning at his best, a masterful renderer of costume and animal details, human emotion, and landscape elements.

    More information about HOWARD A. TERPNING, also known as Terpning, Howard A., Howard A. Terpning.

    Condition Report*: Framed Dimensions 34.625 X 50.625 Inches
    *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. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. 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. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    17th Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,663

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