Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice



    WILLIAM ROBINSON LEIGH (American, 1866-1955)
    Papago Weaving Grain Basket, 1949
    Oil on canvas
    18 x 19 inches (45.7 x 48.3 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: W.R. Leigh - 1949

    Born on a farm in West Virginia, W. R. Leigh began his training as an artist at the Maryland Institute when he was only fourteen. Later he would gain more formal training in Munich at the Royal Academy. For many years, he earned a living providing illustrations for such magazines as Scribner's and Collier's. He also executed the background murals for several dioramas at the Museum of Natural History in New York. In 1906, he was commissioned by the Santa Fe Railroad to paint the Grand Canyon in exchange for free passage on the railroad. The course of Leigh's life and his painting style took a dramatic turn as a result of that trip. He increasingly turned away from illustration work in favor of painting the land and people of the American Southwest. Of particular interest to him were the cultures of the Arizona mesas, such as the Hopi, Navaho, and Papago.

    Although Leigh frequently produced large, colorful paintings filled with drama and adventure, he also produced a significant body of work that focused on the everyday lives of the native people of the Southwest. His paintings, such as Papago Weaving Grain Basket, are excellent visual records of the daily lives of the Indians of the Southwest. Other artists, and in many cases, Leigh himself, chose to focus on the more dramatic elements of native life, such as buffalo hunts and raiding parties, but Leigh's paintings of the myriad daily tasks that occupied the lives of the people he chronicled give a far more complete picture of their history and culture.

    The great majority of Leigh's southwestern paintings show a landscape drenched in bright colors and blazing sunlight. He was adept at capturing the quality of light in the desert Southwest and was equally at ease in depicting the high drama of Native Americans in dangerous pursuit of stampeding buffalo as he was in capturing the nuances of the domestic lives of the people of the Southwest. Although a simple composition, Papago Weaving Grain Basket reveals a great deal about the lives and culture of this particular native tribe. The weaver is at work on a particularly large basket that will most likely be used to the benefit of several members of the tribe. By picturing her in this manner, Leigh presents a simple picture of a complex and laborious task. In the background, we see two children at play sheltered from the heat of the midday sun. In this tableau, one gets both a feel for the environment and an appreciation for the skill and talent of the weaver. We see in a brief moment, a summation of an entire way of life.

    More information about WILLIAM ROBINSON LEIGH, also known as Leigh, William Robinson, Leigh, William, William Robinson Leigh.

    Condition Report*: Original canvas is unlined.  UV light reveals no inpainting or strengthening.  Very good condition.
    *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, 2010
    20th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,873

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    This item cannot be shipped using standard methods. Please contact us for more information. Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions  |  Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments |  Glossary of Terms

    Sold on Nov 20, 2010 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 November 5 American Art Signature Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thank you for the wonderful job Heritage did with promotion of this piece. So appreciative.
    Laura I.,
    Tulsa, OK
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search