Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Buck Peters, Ranchman 27 3/4 x 19 1/4in overall: 36 x 27 1/2in (Painted in 1911)

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Lot 103
Maynard Dixon
Buck Peters, Ranchman 27 3/4 x 19 1/4in overall: 36 x 27 1/2in

Sold for US$ 293,000 inc. premium
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946)
Buck Peters, Ranchman
signed and dated 'Maynard Dixon / -11' (lower left)
oil on board
27 3/4 x 19 1/4in
overall: 36 x 27 1/2in
Painted in 1911


  • Provenance
    Private collection, Pasadena, California.

    Inscribed on the reverse:
    4 + front cover
    MS. p. 264
    As he spoke he hurled his horse against
    Hopalong's while his right hand flashed to
    his hip -

    In 1900 Maynard Dixon visited Arizona and New Mexico. This trip marked the start of his lifelong passion for roaming the West. The following year he accompanied fellow artist Edward Borein on a horseback trip through several Western states. In California, he illustrated books and magazines with Western themes. Some of his most memorable work from these early years appeared in Clarence Mulford's books about Hopalong Cassidy.

    Clarence Mulford (1883-1956) created the character Hopalong Cassidy and other cowboys of the Bar-20 ranch in 1907 while living in Fryeburg, Maine. He wrote 28 novels and numerous short stories, many of which were adapted to radio, feature film, television and comic books. More than just writing a very popular series of Westerns, Mulford re-created a uniquely detailed and authentic world. His books were written using information he gathered from his extensive travels throughout the American West. He kept a card file of data about the West that contained more than 17,000 entries, covering everything from fur trapping and cattle drives to the Pony Express and the freight-wagon industry.

    In his thoroughly researched 1993 book The Art and Life of Maynard Dixon, Donald J. Hagerty writes 'The original Cassidy was a loner, a working cowboy noted for consuming prodigious amounts of tobacco and alcohol, being vulgar, and cheating at cards. Cassidy "hopped along" because of an old bullet wound, possessed the irritability of a redhead, and was a two-gun gunslinger with apparent homicidal tendencies. Mulford's Cassidy stories were based upon his perception of reality, and he tried to avoid a romantic orientation. In March 1910, A.C. McClurg published Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy with five full-page color illustrations by Maynard Dixon. The book was a roaring success. McClurg published Mulford's Bar-20 Days, which the author dedicated to "M.D.", in 1911, Buck Peters, Ranchman followed in 1912, and finally The Coming of Cassidy in 1913 – all of them illustrated by Maynard Dixon'. At this time in his career, Dixon felt very strongly about conveying an authentic depiction of the West, having previously painted more romantic imagery for some of his earlier New York publishers. Dixon and Mulford's mutual interest in a realistic portrayal of the West likely contributed to their lengthy collaboration.
    Maynard Dixon's popularity is a direct result of the quality of his draftsmanship, his use of color and his eye for composition. Dixon honed this talent in his early days as an illustrator. This painting exemplifies many of these characteristics. The anatomy of the horses is uncanny in its accuracy. Dixon finds little difficulty in projecting the alarm in the faces of the horses and the tension in their musculature, as one of the men fires his pistol at an unknown, but undoubtedly villainous character. The afternoon light suggests that the men have been on the trail of these bandits since sunrise. The two men's faces exude confidence as they show no emotion despite the perilous situation. As one reads through the book, and views Dixon's art work, you can easily imagine the desperate scene as the action unfolds. It is no wonder that Clarence Mulford chose Dixon to paint several of the illustrations used in his books. Dixon's no-nonsense style reflects our iconic vision of the West and the brave adventurers that strove to tame it.

    A copy of Buck Peters, Ranchman, by Clarence E. Mulford, with this painting as the cover image, accompanies the lot.
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Buck Peters, Ranchman 27 3/4 x 19 1/4in overall: 36 x 27 1/2in (Painted in 1911)
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Buck Peters, Ranchman 27 3/4 x 19 1/4in overall: 36 x 27 1/2in (Painted in 1911)
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