2019-03-01 Western Art Collector

(Martin Jones) #1

the bar. Russell, wearing his sash and that high-riding
hat, can be seen in the crowd taking in the responses of
the onlookers. Thomas was worried about receiving a
single bid, so a bidding war seemed far-fetched. When
the work sold for $180,000, he was speechless. “At that
point I had never sold a painting over $20,000, and to
think I almost didn’t send it in. I was in the room when
it sold and I’m not really comfortable in big crowds, so
when it hit about $60,000 I quickly realized there was
no slinking out of the room after that,” he recalls. “It
was certainly a magical night.”
Although Thomas’ work was already on the map,
now it had a spotlight on it, and he quickly began doing
some of the best work of his career: scenes of shootouts
in Old West towns, outlaws shooting their way out of
tense situations, stagecoach robberies, bear attacks,
buffalo hunts, cattle stampedes and Native American
riders crossing golden prairies. Like Russell, Thomas
was led by his brush and didn’t feel pigeonholed to one
subject or style.
Russell would return as a subject for the 2013
Russell auction, when Thomas painted the cowboy
artist in his studio in Russell Paints a Masterpiece.
“A friend of mine had known the story and supplied
me a copy of the Joe De Yong letter. Joe had visited
Russell and described in detail the studio and
Russell working. And Nancy Russell must have had
a photographer come in because a photo exists with
this piece on the easel,” Thomas says of the work.
“I just wanted to get as much as I could in the painting,
which is why I painted all these finished works on the
walls and the floor. Painting a Russell work is tricky.
I had to paint my interpretation of them but I also had

Andy Thomas, Grizzly Mountain, 2008, oil, 30 x 40"
Inset: Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), Crippled
but Still Coming, 1913, oil on canvas. The Eiteljorg
Museum. The Gund Collection of Western Art,
Gift of the George Gund Family.

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