Private collection, Wyoming
The Saturday Evening Post, “Esau in Search of a Home,” Emerson Hough, The Curtis Publishing Company, January 21, 1911: p. 3.
This painting originally appeared in the January 21, 1911, edition of the Saturday Evening Post, in an article titled “Esau in Search of a Home: The Ground We Stand On” by Western writer Emerson Hough. Within the context of the article, the image is titled When He Did Not Like a “Nester” He Either Killed Him or Kicked Him Out. The work is one of four illustrations by Dunn in the article, which largely focuses on land issues related to the expansion of the United States. Hough uses the biblical story of Jacob and Esau—a story of birthright and deception among brothers—as a literary device to epmhasize America’s need to connect with the land, build homes and expand the country. “Poor old Esau! Poor old hairy-pawed, hardworking, square-stepping, decent old chap,” Hough writes. “He wants a home, even though that shall mean to certain bright minds—who perhaps have no home of their own—that he is to be technically known as a hick, a rube, a farmer or a countryman. Rather let us call him a man and a citizen—and that of the most essential sort.”
Like Esau, Dunn was born on a farm and was the hard-working son of homesteaders in the Dakota Territory. At just 17 years old, Dunn enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he would meet teacher Howard Pyle. In 1904, Pyle invited the younger artist to join him in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The concentration of illustrators would come to be called the Brandywine School. Just two years later, Dunn had his own studio and was producing imagery for magazines and periodicals such as Century, Collier’s, Harper’s, Scribner’s and the Saturday Evening Post. When he was married in 1908, N.C. Wyeth was his best man. Dunn would eventually start his own school with painter Charles S. Chapman. One of his first students was Dean Cornwell, who said, “I was privileged to sit at Harvey Dunn’s feet…He taught art and illustration as one…as religion.”
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Please note that the first unframed photo is most accurate for color. Framed photographs are to show the frame and are not color corrected to the painting.
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