Interpreting the Wild West

Launch Slideshow

America’s West and the colorful lifeways of its people have long have captured the imagination of artists.  Olaf Wieghorst, the painter who emigrated to the U.S. from Denmark and became a cowboy and a U.S. cavalryman, developed a great skill and passion for depicting horses.  Thomas Hart Benton, the well-known American Regionalist painter, was a Missouri native who found inspiration in his travels through the West and Plains States.  Frederic Remington, a New Yorker whose heart was always in the West, was frequently commissioned to create artworks that would accompany western frontier stories.  Ahead of the 7 April auction, learn how ten American artists found themselves admiring the ‘Wild West’.

American Art
7 April | New York

Interpreting the Wild West

  • Olaf Wieghorst, Navajo Country. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    While working on a stock farm as a young man in Denmark, Olaf Wieghorst learned to ride horses and began to teach himself to paint. From this experience, Wieghorst developed a passion for horses which would be a source of lifelong inspiration for his art. At the age of 19, he immigrated to the United States and joined the United States Cavalry to patrol the Mexican border. From here, he worked as a cowboy and mounted policeman until reaching artistic success in 1942.

  • Frank B. Hoffman, A Sure Catch. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    Western illustrator, painter and sculptor, Frank Hoffman is known for his colorful palette and gestural brushwork. In the present work, he dynamically portrays one aspect of the daily life of cowboys driving the herd. A roper is chasing down a stray calf that has wandered from the drive, attempting to throw a lasso around its neck while on horseback.

  • Frederic Remington, By 'n By, Harado Halted an' Turned 'Round. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    In the early 1880s, Frederic Remington made several trips to the West and Plains States, working a variety of jobs including as a cowboy, ranch hand, lumberjack and gold miner. These experiences gave Remington unique insight into the “cowboy” lifestyle and he was frequently commissioned by publications to create artwork to accompany western frontier stories. This drawing is one of 4 illustrations he created for "A Mediaevael Romance of the Nineteenth Century," published in Outing Magazine in December 1887.

  • Dean Cornwell, Confrontation at the Saloon. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    As is typical in Dean Cornwell's work, he has chosen the turning point in the narrative to enhance the drama of the scene before it reaches its zenith. In this work, he has placed the central figure slightly to the left of the canvas, but all of the other figures and elements draw the eye back to the central figure. Cornwell frequently uses negative space and bright colors to bring focus to the figures in the composition and their relationship to one another.

  • Thomas Hart Benton, Schoolhouse. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Although Thomas Hart Benton is best known for his murals, he initially wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist and illustrator. Benton made the present drawing in 1926, while taking a walking trip through the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri and later used it as an illustration for Schoolhouse in the Foothills, published in 1935.

  • Joseph Henry Sharp, Waiting for the Pot to Boil Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    On a note attached to the reverse of the board, Sharp described the scene as he was painting this sketch “Indians just received rations from the issue warehouse and having a little fest before going home. Painting made from little eye hole in paper covering studio window. Had they known I was doing it, would have melted right away!” Also on this note, Sharp mentions that the frame for this work was created by Hermann Dudley Murphy, a prominent Boston artist and founder of the Carrig - Rohane Frame Shop.

  • Charles Craig, Indian Encampment. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    Charles Craig is well-known for his ethnologically accurate depictions of the daily life of Native Americans. This is due, in large part, to the several years the artist spent living with various tribes and carefully recording the details of their cultures.

  • Harvey T. Dunn, True Stories of Crime. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    As a native of South Dakota, Harvey T. Dunn drew artistic inspiration from his childhood on the western frontier. It is interesting to note the influence of the artist’s mentor and teacher, Howard Pyle, in the present work.  The lecherous figures at left are a direct reference to the swashbucklers the older artist often depicted in his compositions.

  • Arthur Burdett Frost, An Unexpected Covey. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    Arthur Burdett Frost is considered one of the great illustrators of the American Golden Age, producing works for Harper's Weekly, Scribner's, and Century magazines. Frost was an ardent outdoorsman and best known for his paintings and drawings of sporting scenes. It is believed that Frost was Red/Green color blind, which may explain his excellent use of grayscale in illustrations such as the present work.

  • Douglass Crockwell, After a Day on the Slopes. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    Following World War II, the United States Brewers Foundation (USBF) wanted beer to be seen in a more positive light, as an integral part of the American way of life and, as their now famous tagline states, as “America’s beverage of moderation.” From 1945 to 1956, the USBF produced at least 136 ads using the same thematic elements, with 120 of them numbered as part of the “Home Life in America” series. This work is number 103 of the series and was featured in ads in the 24 January and 7 February 1955 issues of Life Magazine.


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