William R. Leigh

Pack Trip (Rough Going)

MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

DIMENSIONS: 22 x 30 inches

ESTIMATE: $250,000.00 - $450,000.00

Signed and dated 1943 lower left

Additional Information

Provenance:
Private collection Indiana

Literature:
W.R. Leigh: The Definitive Illustrated Biography, June DuBois, The Lowell Press, Kansas City, MO, 1977: Illustrated p. 158 (using the title Rough Going).

When William R. Leigh landed in Western art, no one quite like him had been seen before, or since. His work was wholly unique, with sumptuous color, compositions held together with flailing hooves and hands twisted within dusty clouds, and exaggerated human and animal figures that defied realism ever so slightly to create a heightened emotional sense. As he rose within the art world, there was even serious discussion as to what his work should be called. Critics were stumped: Illustration? Romantic realism? Impressionism? When Leigh was asked to weigh in, he wrote in a letter: “I like to think of myself as a conscientious artist.” In an article titled “This Rembrandt Lived in Tepees to Paint Canvas Sagas of Wild West,” one reviewer from the New York World Telegram offered insight: “As the…pictorial spokesman for the land of chaps and chaparral he has been dubbed the ‘Sagebrush Rembrandt’…Of special delight to Mr. Leigh is that he has a constant audience from old-timers to youngsters all united by a common bond, the lure of the West that is sometimes wild and woolly.”

These qualities are on full view in Pack Trip, which uses the title Rough Going in June Dubois’ 1977 book W.R. Leigh: The Definitive Illustrated Biography. Regarding the work, which shows a hunter making his way up a risky cliffside path, Leigh wrote in his unpublished memoirs, “When a man is out to get bighorn sheep, he has got to get first of all to the places where these animals are. The means to the open country above timber, and it takes knowledge, sure feet and good lungs to do that.”

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