The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 70
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
some of the two-thousand prints Smith had already made, Steger
produced one of his own-a photograph of Frederic Remington's
famous "Broncho-Buster," the original bronze of which had been
given to Theodore Roosevelt by the Rough Riders. He asked Smith
if he had an original of just such a horse and rider.
Smith looked carefully at the photograph of the statue. "I don't
know what that horse is going to do," he said. "To me, that horse
expresses no intention, no action, no direction."'
Perhaps that critical comment of the twenty-two year old student
best illustrates his early capacity as an artist. He was concerned with
the truth, and the impossible contortion of the Remington bronze
must have offended him. Still, with youthful generosity he added, "The
horse's mouth is fine, by the way.""
In going through these early photographs Steger recognized that
"from this material it will be possible at a time when the last ranch
is sold up into small farms, to reconstruct any moving incident of the
old West."' They must have talked about old times in Bonham, and
conjectured on their opposite turns, Steger to the sophisticated East,
Smith to the raw country of the West.
Born August 22, 1886, in Honey Grove, Texas, Erwin Smith was
seven when he moved fifteen miles west to Bonham with his mother,
who had remarried after his father's death. As a boy he visited with
relatives near Quanah, and he was introduced to ranch life on the
old JCS in Foard County. The cattle range so appealed to him that
back at school in Bonham his notebooks became drawing pads for
sketches of horses and Indians. He obtained an inexpensive Buckeye
camera and experimented with developing his own film. "He wanted
to be an artist and he wanted to be a cowboy. Then he saw that to
be the kind of artist he could feel himself he must be the cowboy
'For Smith's full and extremely interesting critical comment on the Remington bronze,
see Harry Peyton Steger, "Photographing The Cowboy As He Disappears," The World's
Work, XVII (January, 1909), 11123; see also Steger, "A Texas Boy in Boston and His
Work in Western Art," Holland's Magazine, XXVIII (June, 1909), 26-28.
'Ibid., 11123. Andy Adams, concerned with distorted representations of western life,
once wrote to Erwin Smith, "Remington will always be the popular western artist,
although others in that field forgot more than he ever knew." Sherman Daily Democrat,
October 2, 1934.
Smith was also a correspondent with, and admirer of, the great western painter, Charles
M. Russell, of whom he said, "He gets all the action there is, without exaggeration."
Sherman Daily Democrat, September 27, October 2, 1934.
eSteger, "Photographing The Cowboy As He Disappears," 11111.
'Sherman Daily Democrat, September 30o, 1934; J. Evetts Haley, Life on the Texas
Range (Austin, 1952), 16-18.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/88/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.