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    Description

    THE PROPERTY OF PHILIP JONSSON

    WILLIAM ROBINSON LEIGH (American, 1866-1955)
    Renegade at Bay, 1941
    Oil on canvas
    24 x 29 inches (61.0 x 73.7 cm)
    Signed and dated lower left: W.R. Leigh 1941

    PROVENANCE:
    Kennedy Galleries, New York (label verso);
    Mr. Eric Jonsson, Dallas, Texas;
    Thence by descent.

    Beginning in 1906, W. R. Leigh made many trips to the American West while maintaining his studio and home in New York City. While his travels covered a wide range of western territory, he had a particular interest in and affection for the Indian lands of Arizona and New Mexico and spent much time there. Leigh was a highly trained artist who had spent twelve years in the Royal Academy in Munich and had worked as an illustrator for ten years in New York before he made his first extensive trip to the West. While he painted other subjects in his long career, most notably a series of murals depicting the African landscape for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, his favorite subjects were the Indians, the landscape, and the cowboys of the Southwest. When an art critic complimented him on one of his western scenes, he said that "the West brings out the best in me."

    Painted in 1941, Renegade at Bay, is indicative of Leigh's talents as both a figure painter and a landscapist. Leigh's skill in each discipline was honed through his rigorous training in the European academies. Also contributing to his skill was Leigh's practice of making hundreds of field sketches that he would later use as color and tonal references for his finished works. Each of his paintings was meticulously constructed in the same manner. He began with the backgrounds and worked his way slowly to the primary figures in the foreground. Each figure was drawn in charcoal and then colored over with oil. While on location, Leigh would paint the landscape at several different times during the day to make sure that he could accurately depict the quality of the southwestern light at any given hour. Renegade at Bay shows his figures in the brilliant light of midday. The colorful horse and dismounted rider are skillfully contrasted with the more subtle colorings and shadings of the arid landscape. As always, Leigh deftly incorporates details and nuances that add to the painting's overall feeling of reality. A meandering stream pools water just to the left of the rider adding yet another authentic detail, while the cowboy's hat lies in the sand to the horse's right giving the viewer the sense of having just walked up on the scene as it is unfolding.

    At the forefront of the scene is a beautifully drawn and painted horse whose calm demeanor is an effective contrast to the tension displayed by the cowboy who is awaiting whatever danger lies just around the bend. Leigh's earlier experience as an illustrator no doubt gave him ample experience in constructing a visual narrative, but paintings such as this one sprang completely from his own imagination. They were conceived as dramatic vignettes of the Old West, stories of a time and place that continue to have a powerful hold on the popular imagination.

    Unlike his contemporaries in the field of western art, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, Leigh achieved his greatest recognition and success relatively late in his career. He was 75 when he produced this work and his skill as an artist had not been diminished in any way by his advanced age. While both Remington and Russell had highly successful but relatively brief careers, Leigh captured the beauty and drama of the American West with consistent quality for almost fifty years. In many ways his career marked the end of one era: the nineteenth century heyday of the great western illustrators and eye-witness artists, and the beginning of another: the modern era of contemporary western artists. For serious collectors of western art, Renegade at Bay stands as one of Leigh's most accomplished paintings from his mature period.




    Condition Report*: Original canvas has been relined on resin panel backed by linen and restretched on its original stretchers.  Original paint layer is intact and in 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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2011
    5th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 9,131

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    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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