Howard Terpning (born 1927) Crows in Yellowstone 44 1/8 x 32in (Painted in 1990.)

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Lot 25
Howard Terpning
(born 1927)
Crows in Yellowstone 44 1/8 x 32in

Sold for US$ 500,075 inc. premium
Howard Terpning (born 1927)
Crows in Yellowstone
signed and dated '© Terpning 1990 CA' (lower right), signed again and titled (on the backing)
oil on canvas
44 1/8 x 32in
Painted in 1990.


  • Provenance
    The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, July 24, 2004, lot 133.

    Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, Cowboy Artists of America 25th Annual Sale & Exhibition, October 19 – November 18, 1990 (Stetson Award).
    Corning, The Rockwell Museum, American Masterworks of Howard Terpning: Highlights from The Eddie Basha Collection, June 24 – September 11, 2016.
    Cartersville, Booth Western Art Museum, Howard Terpning: 70 Years of Art, December 15, 2016 – March 26, 2017.

    M. Clawson, "A Collector's Legacy," Western Art Collector, November 2015, Issue 99, p. 42, color illustration.
    K. Buchanan, ed., American Masterworks of Howard Terpning: Highlights from the Eddie Basha Collection [exh. cat.], Corning, The Rockwell Museum, 2016, pp. 24-25, full page color illustration.
    J.D. Balestrieri, "Howard Terpning At The Rockwell Museum: The Story Behind The Storyteller," Antiques and The Arts Weekly, July 22, 2016, p. 10C, color illustration.
    S. Hopkins, Howard Terpning: 70 Years of Art, Cartersville, Booth Western Art Museum, 2016, p. 33.

    Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Howard Terpning is an extraordinary visual storyteller with a focus on historical depictions of the American Indian such as Crows in Yellowstone. From a very young age, Terpning began drawing and expressed interest in becoming an artist. Native Americans were a childhood interest as well, initiated after Terpning spent a summer at age 15 with cousins in Durango, Colorado. Terpning enlisted in the Marine Corps from 1945 to 1946 and served as an infantryman. Following his service, Terpning studied painting in Chicago at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art and the American Academy of Fine Art. After finishing art school, Terpning worked for more than two decades as a successful commercial illustrator, in New York, Chicago and Milwaukee. Terpning's commercial work appeared in and on the covers of a variety of magazines including Time, Newsweek, Field & Stream, Ladies Home Journal, and Reader's Digest, and he also worked for the motion picture industry and on national advertising campaigns.

    In 1967, Terpning was commissioned by the Marine Corps to paint a series of Vietnam War-themed works. Six major paintings from the series still hang in the Marine Corps Museum in Washington D.C. Winchester Firearms gave the artist a major Western-themed commission during this time period as well, which may have helped renew Terpning's interest in the Old West. By the 1970s, Terpning was extensively researching the Western and Indian cultures of the historic West, with a particular focus on 19th Century Plains Peoples, and was actively painting in preparation for gallery exhibition, while still working as an illustrator. By 1975, Terpning turned to painting full time and had his first sold out gallery consignment in Scottsdale.

    Terpning moved to Tucson in 1977, where he continues to live and paint today. Since 1979 he has been a member of both the National Academy of Western Art and the Cowboy Artists of America (now Emeritus). His paintings have received numerous awards through the years and his works became headliners in annual fundraisers for museums such as the Autry Museum of the American West and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Considered the premier living Western painter, Terpning was honored with a retrospective at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in 2001. Not only is the quality of Terpning's work extraordinary, but his attention to detail and his respect and sensitivity to Indian culture has become world-renowned.

    "Landscape is often subdued in Howard Terpning paintings, but sometimes it is the most prominent feature. Frequently he sees a scene first, then decides how best to fit his Indian characters into it." 1 This is likely the case in Crows in Yellowstone, where Crow warriors expertly guide their horses down a steep ravine to a rocky crossing point on the Yellowstone River, set within a rich, autumn forest.

    Of the present work the artist writes, "There is a world of difference between recognizing the sacred nature, mystery and power of a place and being afraid of it. The Crow respected and revered what they called 'land of the burning ground' or 'land of vapors'. Although they lived primarily in the region to the east of what became Yellowstone National Park, the Crow camped and hunted throughout the region. The Crow were expert horsemen. They dubbed the horse 'Ichilay', meaning 'to search with', perhaps referring to the search for enemies and game. While other Plains tribes used the travois for hauling, the Crow, from children to elders, all rode and used packhorses that enabled them to travel fast no matter what the terrain. The Crow were regarded as premier horse thieves. One of the four military tests for an aspiring Crow warrior was to sneak into an enemy camp at night, capture a fine horse and bring it back successfully. It was then almost impossible to catch the Crow, especially if they took refuge behind the Absaroka Range in what is now Yellowstone."

    1 E. Kelton, The Art of Howard Terpning, Bantam, New York, New York, 1992, p. 64.
Howard Terpning (born 1927) Crows in Yellowstone 44 1/8 x 32in (Painted in 1990.)
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