William Herbert Dunton, forever known as “Buck,” was the lone cowboy of the Taos Society, a Maine-born artist who revered the outdoors and always lamented that he had been born too late to experience the Wilder West. Dunton had a special fondness for animals, and bears, perhaps above all others, fired his imagination. Late in life he wrote, “Bear! How my heart leaped and my pulse quickened as I sat, motionless and agape, drinking in those weird tales of an ancient past. For, to me, a bear seemed to belong to those bygone years of the screaming panther and skulking Indian with his war whoop and bloody tomahawk. In my childish imagination I visioned, in the weaving flames of the fire, a vast and unbroken wilderness, solitude so dense, so foreboding, so limitless that only the brave dare penetrate.” (quoted in Schimmel, The Art and Life of W. Herbert Dunton, p. 104.) No bear is to be seen in Going In, The Bear Hunters, but the introspection of the near hunter–angling downward, as if into his thoughts–and the watchfulness of the hunter in the open–angling upward into heightened awareness– signal their mental and physical preparedness. Each man is careful in a different way. They move and work together cautiously, in silence, instinctively, hoping to be among Dunton’s “brave” who “dare penetrate” the “foreboding wilderness.”
Good condition. Inpainting as noted. Craquelure on top and bottom of painting.
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