Tom Lovell (1909-1997) Listening for the Drums; Study for Listening for the Drums (a group of two) both 26 1/8 x 22 1/8in (Painted in 1987; Drawn in 1987.)

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Lot 10
Tom Lovell
(1909-1997)
Listening for the Drums; Study for Listening for the Drums (a group of two) both 26 1/8 x 22 1/8in

Sold for US$ 200,075 inc. premium
Tom Lovell (1909-1997)
Listening for the Drums; Study for Listening for the Drums (a group of two)
both signed and dated 'Tom Lovell NAWA © 1987' (lower right), signed again, titled and dated (on the backing)
oil on canvas; charcoal and graphite on paper
both 26 1/8 x 22 1/8in
Painted in 1987; Drawn in 1987.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, New York.

    Exhibited
    Oklahoma City, National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Tom Lovell: An Invitation to History, March 21 - June 7, 1992.
    Prescott, Phippen Museum, By the Light of the Moon, March 4 - July 23, 2017.

    Literature
    D. Hedgpeth and W. Reed, The Art of Tom Lovell: An Invitation To History, Trumbull, The Greenwich Workshop, Inc., 1993, pp. 92-93, full page color illustration.

    Like much of Tom Lovell's work, Listening for the Drums was inspired by a specific, historical event. 'On an early morning in November, 1864, several hundred Colorado volunteers attacked a peaceful band of Cheyennes at their camp on Sand Creek. Two hundred Indians were killed, most of them women and children. This massacre brought a swift and violent response from the Indians of the central Plains. Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho war parties attacked and killed whites where and when they found them.' 1

    In the present work, Lovell interpreted the event from the perspective of two scouts. 'Throughout the long, winter nights, drums throbbed in camps along the South Platte as warriors sang songs of revenge and put on war paint. The camps were moved frequently to avoid discovery by Army patrols. Scouts looking for the new locations of their camp would stop and listen from the hills for the sound of drums, which would guide them through the winter darkness.'2

    Lovell elaborated further that since 'the Cheyennes were actively raiding along the Platte River with much success and defeating the U.S. Cavalry at every turn,' they were 'happy so there was much dancing (and drumming) every night.'3

    The night sky is depicted with as much gravitas as his figures. With meticulous detail, Lovell conveyed the importance of the scouts' heightened senses and reliance on nature by recording the exact day and time of night in the constellations.4 Lovell's simplified composition of two figures silhouetted in moonlight dramatizes the responsibility that sometimes falls to a chosen few to lead many to safe passage.

    1 D. Hedgpeth and W. Reed, The Art of Tom Lovell: An Invitation To History, Trumbull, The Greenwich Workshop, Inc., 1993, p. 92.
    2 Ibid.
    3 Lovell, handwritten note affixed to the reverse.
    4 Ibid.
Contacts
Tom Lovell (1909-1997) Listening for the Drums; Study for Listening for the Drums (a group of two) both 26 1/8 x 22 1/8in (Painted in 1987; Drawn in 1987.)
Tom Lovell (1909-1997) Listening for the Drums; Study for Listening for the Drums (a group of two) both 26 1/8 x 22 1/8in (Painted in 1987; Drawn in 1987.)
Tom Lovell (1909-1997) Listening for the Drums; Study for Listening for the Drums (a group of two) both 26 1/8 x 22 1/8in (Painted in 1987; Drawn in 1987.)
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