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According to William R. Leigh biographer June DuBois, “By 1906 the New York scene had become intolerable for Leigh. He escaped for part of that summer to Portsmouth, where his five-year-old son, William Colston Leigh, was then with Leigh’s mother. Restless, he soon returned to the city. The longing to paint in the West where in his imagination it seemed he had existed forever tugged at him more poignantly than ever. …

“In his autobiography and other writings, Leigh has given reasons for his consuming desire to paint Western subjects: his love of animals, his fondness of nature and the unpretentious, a childhood infused with Indian folklore, and above all, his certainty that the West represented the intrinsically authentic America. Out here he felt he would throw off the gloomy shroud of the New York art world and come alive again, free to paint subjects which held meaning for Americans in any style he chose.

“In an article, Thomas Moran was quoted as saying, ‘W. R. Leigh has preferred the sleeping bag, frying pan, and the stars to the contrivances of the railroad people.…For eight years, good pictures by this artist have been coming out of the West. At first they were mainly canyons and mountains, western skies and sagebrush, moonlit buttes and sunsets. Later they came to include characteristic pictures of Indian and cowboy life.’”

PROVENANCE:
The Anschutz Collection, Denver, Colorado
Private Collection, La Jolla, California, 1992

LITERATURE:
W. R. Leigh, The Definitive Illustrated Biography (Kansas City, MO: The Lowell Press, 1977), page 127, illustrated

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