The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 464
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Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
co-director of the Center for Texas Studies at the University of North
Texas, lost his renowned critical reticence by pronouncing it the "most
stunning and prodigious book in Texas history."2 Texas is heir to some
of the most colorful, violent, and romantic history in the American
westward movement, but such praise raises the possibility that the state
will be equally well known to posterity for its natural history and print-
Of Birds and Texas was the culmination of years of preparation by the
eccentric Gentling twins of Fort Worth. Now forty-five years old, they
say that they never knew a time when they were not interested in birds.
Stuart recalled in a recent interview that he spent some of the happiest
moments of his childhood just as Audubon had-hunting birds in the
trees near their home to obtain specimens for taxidermy. That hobby
led him to express more than passing interest in a reprint edition of
Audubon's The Birds of America that he discovered in the libraray of the
Fort Worth Children's Museum (now the Fort Worth Museum of Sci-
ence and History). "From the very first day that we had the Audubon
book in our possession," he said, "we began to make copies of his paint-
ings." But they did not work just from book illustrations, for Stuart's
improving marksmanship with his BB gun kept them supplied with
specimens to stuff and paint.'
The interest in art deepened, leading both brothers to Philadelphia
where they studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,
picking up the Wyeth family style of dry brush painting as well as the
Brandywine River School's swashbuckling approach to life-costumes
and all-which Howard Pyle and his students, including N. C. Wyeth,
raised to a fine art. Back in Fort Worth, Stuart had an opportunity to
apply his maturing technique to bird paintings when the Junior League
asked him to do a drawing for a poster to advertise their spring fund-
raiser. The poster was so successful that the League returned to him
year after year. Seven posters later, Stuart finally called a halt to the
annual project, but by then he had a big bird project in mind.
2Lee Milaz7o, "A Lavish Look 'at Birds of Texas," Dallas Mornmng News, Mar. 22, 1987 (1st
quotation); Lowman, quoted in "Comments fiom the Art and Book World on 'Of Birds and
Texas' by Scott and Stuart Gentling and John Graves," public relations material distributed by
the Gentlings, m possession of the author; and A C. Greene in Focus on Texas (Mar., 1987),
Center for Texas Studies Newsletter, North Texas State University Additional reviews include
Stanley Archer, "Bird Painting and Tradition- The Gentlings' Achievement," Bulletin of the
Texas Ornithological Soczety, XIX (1986), 21 -30, Steve Blow, "Flights of Fancy," Dallas Life Maga-
zine, Dallas Morning News, May 1o, 1987; Ansel Strickland, "In the Manner of Audubon: Two
Texas Artists Pubhsh a Masterpiece," Southern Accents (Jan -Feb , 1987), 68-75; and Mack Lee,
"Of Birds and Texas," Texas Librarzes, LXVIII (Spring, 1987), 3-7
'Stuart Gentlihng to Ron Tyler, 1986, interview (transcript in possession of the author)
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/518/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.