JOHN FORD CLYMER (American, 1907-1989)
    Bighorn Ram
    Oil on canvas
    30 x 26 inches (76.2 x 66.0 cm)
    Signed lower right: J. Clymer


    Although best known for his action-packed illustrations of trappers and Indians from the Old West, John Clymer painted the majestic wildlife of the Canadian Rockies, notably its sure-footed mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Born in Washington state, Clymer fell in love with Canada on trips to British Columbia as a young man during the 1920s: he recorded the region's flora and fauna and the bustling activities of trading posts and logging camps on the Yukon River, while taking night classes at the Vancouver School of Art. The rugged Canadian landscape fueled Clymer's artistic imagination for the rest of his life, in his first jobs working for Canadian magazines, and later as an illustrator in Connecticut. Strongly influenced by fellow illustrators N.C. Wyeth, Tom Lovell, Robert Lougheed, and Walt Louderback, Clymer ultimately developed an aesthetic that coupled historical realism with strong graphic design; these stylistic traits marked both his illustrations, for such magazines as Field & Stream and The Saturday Evening Post, and his animal paintings, promoted by New York's Grand Central Art Galleries.

    Within Clymer's oeuvre, Bighorn Ram is a rare and superior example of a single animal portrait. Most of the artist's paintings of bighorn sheep feature them in pairs or herds, as they usually traveled, in expansive mountain vistas. Here, Clymer focuses on a solitary grand ram perched on a precipitous ledge, with only a hint of the snowy Rockies in the lower left corner. On the one hand, he accentuates naturalistic details, such as the ram's muscular physique and wrinkled coat, or the tufts of lichen growing on the rock. At the same time, Clymer uses graphic design elements to unify and dramatize the composition. For example, he links the ram to the landscape by repeating the wavy lines of his horns and his hide in the wavy lines of the white snow bank and its bold blue shadow. Clymer's reduction of the background into flattened, strongly delineated blue or white shapes creates a backdrop offsetting the ram, posed like an actor on a stage. This "push-pull" between realism and patterning makes Bighorn Ram a truly exceptional work.

    Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000.

    Condition Report*:

    Unlined canvas; patch of faint, stable mechanical craquelure in lower left corner. Framed Dimensions 36.875 X 32.875 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. 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 Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2015
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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