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    MAYNARD DIXON (American, 1875-1946)
    Homeward Bound, Sandhill Camp, 1892
    Gouache on illustration board
    11-1/2 x 16-1/2 inches (29.2 x 41.9 cm)
    Signed lower left: Maynard Dixon / '92

    Two of the striking Mayard Dixon gouaches offered in this sale, Homeward Bound, Sandhill Camp, 1892, and Modern Man and Woman, 1934, exemplify the range of Dixon's artistic styles, serving as bookends to a career that spanned Realism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, and Social Realism. In 1892 Dixon was only seventeen, but due to illnesses which kept him housebound for much of his childhood in California, he had already become an accomplished drawer. In fact, the previous year, he had mailed to the legendary Frederic Remington a sketchbook of his favorite subjects - cowboys and Indians - which Remington apparently praised, thus inspiring Dixon's start as an illustrator. In 1893 Dixon published his first illustration in a local magazine, Overland Monthly, and by 1895 he had secured the first of many subsequent illustration jobs, a post at the San Francisco Morning Call, which funded his travel throughout the West and Southwest. Homeward Bound, Sandhill Camp reveals Dixon's illustrator sensibility, his sophisticated understanding of "readable" characterization and composition, even at an early age. With a realist's eye for detail, he captures the haggard expression of the cowboy returning from the field, as well as the earnestness of the attendant cowhand. Sloping diagonal lines underscore the movement of the horse and figures, while the graphic interplay of dark foreground and jagged white clouds imparts drama, suggesting the urgency of returning home by day's end.

    The aesthetic which Dixon honed as an illustrator over the ensuing two decades - narrative subjects, minimalist line, and vivid color - perfectly translated to his next career as a muralist. His earliest mural commission dates to 1907, a series of Western themes for the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot in Tucson, followed by numerous others, including those for the Sacramento State Library, West Coast Theatre (Oakland), Baltimore Hotel (Phoenix), Department of the Interior Building (Washington, D.C.), Brooklyn Museum, Brigham Young University, and Cook Museum (Honolulu). Modern Man and Woman, a 1934 study for one of eight panels commissioned by the WPA to replace original Robert Reid murals in the rotunda dome of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, exhibits the dual strains of modernism and Social Realism which informed Dixon's work from the 1930s until his death in 1946. Just as he had explored the mythical connotations of the cowboy in his illustrations from the 1890s, here again Dixon elevates the common man into a symbol for progress. Set against a clarion blue sky - Dixon's signature color - a columnar man and woman, bordered by electric lightning bolts, rise like new beings from a stylized architectural platform; the builder's mallet in the man's hand suggests that modern man and woman will create the next great generation. In its bold coloration and hopeful message, Modern Man and Woman stands in contrast to Dixon's contemporaneous portraits of weary Depression-era workers, which were influenced by the FSA photographs of his famous artist-wife, Dorothea Lange.

    This lot is accompanied by certificate of authenticity from Dr. Mark Sublette of Medicine Man Gallery, Inc., Santa Fe.

    Condition Report*: Visibly in very good condition; not examined outside of frame. Framed under plexi-glass to an overall size of 20.5 x 25.5 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. 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: 1,470

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

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