John Ford Clymer (1907-1989) The White Buffalo 20 x 40in (Painted in 1972.)

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Lot 35
John Ford Clymer
(1907-1989)
The White Buffalo 20 x 40in

Sold for US$ 275,075 inc. premium
John Ford Clymer (1907-1989)
The White Buffalo
signed 'John Clymer CA' (lower right) and titled (on the crossbrace)
oil on canvas
20 x 40in
Painted in 1972.

Footnotes

  • Literature
    W. Reed, John Clymer, An Artist's Rendezvous with the Frontier West, Northland Press, 1976, pp. 68-69, full page color illustration.
    P. Weaver, The Western Paintings of John Clymer, New York, Bantam Books, 1977, pl. 14, full page color illustration.

    Clymer is well-known for his meticulous research behind each painting, whether reimagining a specific historical event or dramatizing a scene of everyday life. In the present work, Clymer set his sights on the Indian buffalo hunt. This subject was commonly depicted by Charles M. Russell as a symbol of the romance of the American frontier, but Clymer provided a fresh take on a traditional subject.

    Clymer often used a panoramic format with an aspect ratio of 2:1 to achieve a great cinematic effect. This allowed for sweeping vistas with s-curves leading to a vanishing point. In the present work, Clymer's dramatic wide-angle perspective amplifies the massive scale of the white buffalo against the hunters and the rest of the herd, making him appear that much more mythic.

    Of the legendary subject, Clymer wrote, 'The white buffalo was considered by most of the Indian tribes as a great medicine. Its appearance in a herd was very, very rare. The white buffalo hide was used by the Sioux and Mandans in some of their most important religious ceremonies and was valued as the greatest gift that could be offered to the Great Spirit. It was the most sought-after prize in a buffalo hunt. Here, a group of Sioux riding over the crest of a ridge have just spotted a herd led by a rare white buffalo bull.' 1

    The White Buffalo is a prime example of Clymer's historical work that was inspired by his 144-mile float trip in 1966 with his wife Doris down the Missouri River. In retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark, George Catlin, and Karl Bodmer, among other explorers and artists, Clymer gained a sensitivity for Sioux terrain, seeing where 'great buffalo herds once roamed.' 2 Following this trip and commercial success, Clymer began to veer away from strictly wildlife subjects toward more historical ones that incorporated wildlife. 3

    1 W. Reed, John Clymer: An Artist's Rendezvous with the Frontier West, Flagstaff, Northland Press, 1976, p. 69.
    2 Ibid, p. 28.
    3 Ibid.
Contacts
John Ford Clymer (1907-1989) The White Buffalo 20 x 40in (Painted in 1972.)
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