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    PROPERTY FROM THE DUFFY AND TINA OYSTER FOUNDATION

    MELVIN CHARLES WARREN (American, 1920-1995)
    Searchers
    Oil on canvas
    25 x 36 inches (63.5 x 91.4 cm)
    Signed lower right: Melvin C. Warren
    Titled verso: Searchers

    In many ways, western artists are visual story tellers. It is not surprising that many of the most successful and influential western artists that rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s began their artistic careers as illustrators. They were trained in the traditions of such past masters as N.C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, and Frank Schoonover. As illustrators they were given the tasks of bringing to life the words of western writers by providing an accompanying picture to add drama to a particular narrative passage. When these artists made the transition from illustrator to independent artist, they developed their own visual tales of the adventure and action of the Old West. These stories, however, did not have the advantage of being accompanied by a written passage. The stories that their paintings convey are all contained within the parameters of the canvas. In addition to the artistic skill needed to create a painting, these artists must also construct paintings in a way that allows the viewer to place himself in the context of the story being told. The story begins on the canvas and is completed in the imagination of the viewer.

    Melvin Warren is one such visual dramatist. His painting, Searchers, places the viewer in mid story. A group of soldiers and their Indian scouts are making their way directly toward the viewer, a vast expanse of western landscape behind. That landscape contains no clues as to the purpose of this trek. It is a lonely and desolate territory that the riders have just traversed. The title of the piece gives a clue to the purpose of this ride. Warren was a master storyteller who knew that sometimes, the less that is actually said or drawn, the greater the drama conveyed by the few details that are present. The small detail he adds that speaks volumes is the solitary canteen marked with the U.S. insignia that signals it once belonged to a now lost soldier. It is easy to miss this detail, but when the viewer does notice it, the full impact of the story being told begins to take shape.

    Warren grew up on numerous ranches in Texas and graduated with a degree in art from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Before he found success as a full-time artist, he spent years in the field of illustration and commercial art, honing his craft, and developing his talent as a narrative artist. He heard his first stories of the Old West from his father and other family members who spent their days working as cowboys and ranch hands. Warren combined a keen observation of the world around him with an early interest in art. His first art training was through a correspondence course that was delivered to him on a ranch in Seymour, Texas. In 1968, he joined the Cowboy Artists of America, and won many of the organization's top awards prior to his death in 1995. 1968 was also the year that he moved to Clifton, Texas, and helped establish Bosque county as a haven for artists.


    Estimate: $30,000 - $35,000.

    Condition Report*: Re-lined canvas, areas of inpainting upper left edge, center right edge, with scattered areas throughout central region and two heavier areas in sky above Indian figure with gun and to the left of the same figure.
    *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.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2009
    16th Wednesday
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