The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 516
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
However, these omissions do not detract from the copious amount of in-
formation presented. It is hoped that other local studies with the number
of illustrations and descriptive details that are contained in this volume will
Texas Tech University WILLARD B. ROBINSON
Artists of the Old West. By John C. Ewers. (New York: Doubleday & Co.,
1973. Pp. 240. Illustrations, bibliography. $22.50.)
As the American people prepared to possess the vast dominion of the trans-
Mississippi West at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they found
themselves sorely lacking not only in the physical wherewithal to conquer
the new continent but even in the visual means to picture for themselves
what it was they were to conquer. Their imagination was limited to a peri-
pheral and often apocryphal corpus of printed descriptions. No visual inter-
pretations had emerged to entice their avid attention. Even Lewis and Clark
returned without much more than a few hasty pictorial annotations in the
margins of their reports and diaries. In fact, not until 1820, when Major
Steven Long struck out to the Rocky Mountains, did pictorial records be-
come a significant part of the territorial documentation. Long carried with
him two Philadelphia artists, Titian Ramsey Peale, a naturalist, and Samuel
Seymour, a landscape artist. This was the beginning.
Seventy-five years later history was closing the last chapter in the story of
the American West. The cowboys in Montana complained about deflated
prices of beef on the eastern market and lamented the advent of barbed
wire and bibbed overalls. And so, with the passing of the open range, the
western frontier came to a close. Yet, with such gradual beginnings and
such a brief life span, one of the richest, most voluminous artistic chronicles
ever to document a historic era had evolved.
John C. Ewers, senior ethnologist of the Smithsonian Institution, has de-
voted many years to the study and documentation of the art of the American
West. In his Artists of the Old West, an enlarged and considerably em-
bellished edition of his 1965 book, Ewers has traced the mainstream of
western America through its artists and aesthetic trends. Beginning with
Peale and Seymour, Ewers treats, chapter by chapter, the West's grand-
masters, culminating in the two artists who ushered out America's last
frontier and have kept the whole picture alive with their romantic hindsight,
Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. The author's treatment combines
accuracy with a popular ease. The text is readable yet perceptive and Ewers
does not succumb to the usual overindulgence in regional or topical euphe-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/578/?rotate=90: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.