After training at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore and the Royal Academy in Munich, William Robinson Leigh settled in New York in 1896 and began his career as an artist. To support himself, he took a job as an illustrator for Scribner's magazine before making his first trip to the western United States in 1906. Leigh arranged the trip by agreeing to an exchange with the Santa Fe Railroad: a free ticket for a painting of the Grand Canyon. Out West, the artist visited the villages of the Acoma and Zuni Indians, met Joseph Henry Sharp in Taos, New Mexico, and ultimately arrived in the Grand Canyon. A shortage of funds forced Leigh to return to New York soon after his arrival. The profound experience of the American West, however, left an indelible imprint on the artist’s outlook: "My entire horizon had now been revamped. My field was the frontier West. From now on I knew I must return as often to that field as possible" (as quoted in June Dubois, W.R. Leigh: The Definitive Illustrated Biography, 1977, p. 56).
Eventually making over twenty-five trips to the West, Leigh found popular success with his vivid depictions of the stirring landscape and the thrilling energy of Western life: "By 1918, Leigh was exhibiting his work in New York alongside the art of the principal Taos painters and legendary artists like Charles M. Russell" (Rick Stewart, The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier, 1986, p. 167). Similar to many of his contemporaries, Leigh was significantly influenced by the works of Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington, and Charles Schreyvogel.
A Low-down Trick is a rough-and-tumble glimpse of a cowboy tossed backwards from his startled steed. The palpable energy of the image, highlighted by the tension of the bronco's muscles and the cowboy's perilous position, showcases the artist’s ability to convey both a broader narrative and theatrical dynamism through a single image. As exemplified in A Low-down Trick, Leigh's early experience as an illustrator honed his capacity for dramatic story-telling through relatively straightforward imagery of everyday life in the American West.