The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990 Page: 76
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Southwestern Huztorzcal Quarterly
this essay partially explain why the western art phenomenon generates
the enthusiasm and staying power that it has had.
All three books focus on the role of the collector and patron, rather
than the multitude of viewers. The most recent of the works is Richard
H. Saunders's Collecting the West: The C. R. Smzth Collection of Western
American Art (1988). In addition to including color plates of virtually
the entire C. R. Smith Collection at the University of Texas, together
with usually informed discussions of the individual works by a team of
graduate students, the book also includes a lengthy essay by Richard
Saunders called "Art Patronage and the American West." The question
of patronage has recently become a topic of great interest to historians
of American art. It is almost as if any American appreciation for Ameri-
can works of art comes as a surprise. Saunders's comprehensive essay
affords an intriguing introduction to the fascinating subject of who
bought or supported western art and why. Somehow it is not surprising
to find that American industrialists, such as locomotive manufacturer
Joseph Harrison who bought George Catlin's Indian Gallery, were in-
terested in American art. During the so-called Gilded Age and the
early twentieth century, forty-nine wild West shows," in addition to that
of Buffalo Bill, were traveling around the country; promoters of west-
ern railroads like the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe were seeking to
dramatize the territory through which their lines passed. Illustrated
magazines like Harper's Weekly, Scribners, Outzng, and, later, Colliers and
the Saturday Evening Post, invariably featured western stories and west-
ern pictures. During this period and a bit later, as Saunders points
out, motion pictures created gun-toting cowboy heroes like William S.
Hart and Tom Mix, who became national and international symbols of
America while also inspiring its artists. It is thus not surprising that
commissions for western art were abundant, despite the grumblings of
individual artists like Thomas Moran who actually had as many com-
missions as he could handle. How ironic that in 1892 Moran should
I prefer to paint Western scenes but Eastern people don't appreciate the grand
scenery of the Rockies. They are not familiar with its effects, and it is much
easier to sell a picture of a Long Island swamp than the grandest picture of
in its representation," quoted in Richard Saunders, Collecting the West. The C. R Smith Collection
of Western American Art (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1988), 42 See William Faulkner's
Nobel PriTe acceptance speech of 1950.
'Saunders, Collecting the West, s , citing Lonn Taylor and Ingrid Marr, The American Cowboy
(Washington, D C.: American Folklfe Center, Library of Congress, 1984), 93.
"The Rocky Mountain News, June 18, 1892, quoted in Saunders, Collecting the West, 19, n. 57-
Note, however, that the footnote has the wrong year (1862), since Moran did not start painting
the West until 1871.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990, periodical, 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/m1/102/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.