LOT 385

John Falter


The Bluffs Have Eyes

MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

DIMENSIONS: 26 x 40 inches

Signed and dated 79 bottom center


SOLD FOR: $29,250.00

Including Buyers Premium

Additional Information

National Academy of Western Art
Private Collection, Texas

Certainly inspired by the flatboat paintings of George Caleb Bingham, John Falter’s The Bluffs Have Eyes offers an alternative, slightly more realistic posing of river life. Where Bingham offered grand, almost musical depictions of his “jolly flatboatmen,” Falter’s rendition is less romantic, but grittier and more lived-in—perhaps a more authentic representation of a difficult and dangerous profession. Of particular note in the work is the level of detail: two cats, the raised platform that contains the cooking fire, the uniquely dressed figures, a constellation in the night sky and the ripples of jumping fish in the river twilight. A viewer would not require much imagination to hear the soft strums of the banjo music or the gentle lapping of the water against the flat hull of the boat.

Born and raised in Nebraska, Falter scored an early victory as an artist after creating a comic strip that was picked up by Nebraska’s Fall City Journal. Its success eventually led him to Kansas and then New York, where he would study art and begin to explore a career in illustration. Pulp magazines led to more general-interest magazines, which led to commissions from a variety of name-brand products. He truly began to shine in September 1943 when his portrait of Benjamin Franklin graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. He would go on to create 185 covers for the famous publication: nearly half that of Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker, but more than double that of John Clymer. During the 1970s and 1980s, Falter would leave the East Coast to explore Western art. In 1978 he was invited to participate in the National Academy of Western Art (NAWA) annual show, the prelude event to the Prix de West at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. The Bluffs Have Eyes was included in the 1979 NAWA show.


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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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