John Ford Clymer (1907-1989) Aspen Trail 15 x 30in (Painted in 1976.)

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Lot 69
John Ford Clymer
(1907-1989)
Aspen Trail 15 x 30in

Sold for US$ 218,750 inc. premium
John Ford Clymer (1907-1989)
Aspen Trail
signed, dated and inscribed 'John Clymer / © 76 CA' (lower right) and insribed with title (on the reverse)
oil on Masonite
15 x 30in
Painted in 1976.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Sale, Texas Art Gallery, Dallas, Texas, December 4, 1982.
    Acquired by the late owner from the above.

    Literature
    S.H. McGarry, Honoring The Western Tradition: The L.D. "Brink" Brinkman Collection, Kerrville, Texas, 2003, p. 105, illustrated.

    John Ford Clymer was born and raised in Ellensburg, a small town in central Washington on the eastern slope of the Cascades, between the Columbia River and Mount Rainier National Park. This region provided many opportunities for the outdoor pursuits he loved as a child such as fishing, hiking and camping—but far fewer for art training and mentorship. His first exposure to art came vicariously through a magazine subscription salesman, where he saw illustrations by such artists as N.C. Wyeth and Frank Schoonover.1 Like many other artists reflected within the L.D. Brinkman Collection, Clymer was inspired by an older generation of artists now recognized as key figures of the Golden Age of Illustration.

    As an earnest and self-motivated art student, Clymer sought training through a home correspondence program called the Federal School of Applied Cartooning. This program offered a Fundamentals of Art course which included instruction by such artists as Charles M. Russell and Maxfield Parrish. The course provided Clymer with the feedback and confidence he needed to pursue commercial illustration work, first locally and then nationally—all while he was in high school.2

    Upon graduation, Clymer furthered his art education by attending night school in Vancouver, Canada. This period marked the beginning of his adult career as a commercial illustrator, where he freelanced as a sign painter and for several magazines in Winnipeg and Toronto.3 He took two important trips during this period—the first to the Yukon River which provided source material for later illustrations of the Pacific Northwest, and the second to the Brandywine River area to visit one of his heroes, Frank Schoonover. Schoonover gave Clymer the encouragement he needed to continue his work. A few years later, after further study at the Wilmington Academy of Art, Clymer was gainfully employed as a commercial illustrator. He went on to work for such publications as Field and Stream and The Saturday Evening Post, where he designed their covers for over a decade.

    Despite the demands of commercial work, Clymer always found time to paint for himself. By the early 1960s, greater financial freedom meant a greater creative output, and Clymer decided to pursue easel painting full-time.4 The present work reflects his interest in history paintings during the latter part of his career. Whereas his earlier paintings were painted for 'decorative effect', his later paintings were inspired by the historically-informed road trips he took with his family following Indian and early settler trails and landmarks. Aspen Trail reimagines what a late fall trek by native Plateau women may have looked like. Clymer described his approach thus: "I think it is the accumulation of all these experiences, the research and the old stories, the trips on the old trails to actual places, the visits to history museums, large and small, that make it possible to do pictures that are real and believable and have the feeling of the place and time."5

    1 W. Reed, John Clymer: An Artist's Rendezvous with the Frontier West, Flagstaff, Arizona, 1976, p. 2.
    2 Ibid, p. 2.
    3 Ibid, p. 10.
    4 Ibid, p. 25.
    5 Ibid, p. 32.
Contacts
John Ford Clymer (1907-1989) Aspen Trail 15 x 30in (Painted in 1976.)
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