1901 & 1907 Edgar S. Paxon Watercolors
We acquired them in November of 1986. My mother had seen them, and she was accompanying my sister, who was having her baby in the hospital. And so my mother asked my wife and I to go buy these paintings at an auction that was being held in Austin. And so I remember the date-- November of 1986. And we went and bought them.
Do you remember how much you paid for them at the time?
I do not remember the exact figure. I want to say for both of them it was around $7,000 or $7,500, but I can't swear to that.
He's Edgar Paxson and he was a very important American Western artist. Like so many young men in the East in the 1870s, he was captivated by the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and the romance of the frontier. And then the Battle of Little Bighorn took place and he was compelled to go west. He was from Upstate New York and he left his wife and his kids and went west. Ended up in Montana, where he supported himself doing farm, ranch work, working as a military scout, and just kind of keeping himself going out there. His arrival in the West slightly predated Remington and Russell, who are his two arguably more well-known contemporaries in the world of Western painting. But he developed a very close friendship with Russell and the two of them worked side-by-side a good deal of the time in Montana. He became a very adept mural painter. He had no training at all. Not a shred of academic, artistic training, although his father had been a sign painter, so there was the possibility that he had some experience with design and that kind of thing. But he really is a self-taught artist. While some of his major work revolves around murals he painted for municipal buildings in Montana, what he also excelled at and what people who collect this kind of work now really love are these smaller, more detailed watercolors. And you've got two really interesting examples here. And diverse examples. This example of the Indian on horseback is dated 1907 and is a highly finished picture for him. It has really articulated detail. The figure has jewelry and beads and many aspects of the costume that is vital for people today to understand the history of these people. And Paxson was not just a romantic, sentimental painter. He was acutely aware of the changes that were happening so rapidly in the West and that this way of life was really disappearing. The picture nearer to you is perhaps a little more appealing to a lot of collectors because it is so lively and action-packed and shows the romantic vision of the activities in the West of these figures. It's smaller than this one, it's sketchier, but its appear is equal because of the subject matter.
And I would say that each of these works, in an appropriate specialty auction-- which would probably be in the West-- would carry an auction estimate of between $15,000 and $20,000.
Oh, that's nice to hear.
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