Tom Lovell, CA
A Native American finds a Raggedy Ann doll on a lonely Western road. A settler is teaching his gingham dressed wife how to shoot a rifle. Three Indians warm their hands over the chimney of a snow buried cabin. These are just three of the dramatic stories that Tom Lovell told through his artwork. Lovell’s attention to detail is unmatched, and he was seldom able to complete more than a dozen paintings a year. His peers consider him one of the deans of Western art.
Lovell was born in New York City in 1909. He was the Valedictorian of his high school class; and at the graduation ceremony spoke on the “ill treatment of the American Indian by the U. S. Government.” He received a bachelor of fine arts from Syracuse University in 1931. For thirty-nine years, Lovell worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines such as Colliers, McCalls, National Geographic, Life, and the Saturday Evening Post. He was as famous for his Western art as for his stirring images of Civil War battles, which were considered so definitive that they were telecast as part of an acclaimed public television documentary and published in the accompanying best-selling book.
Lovell considered himself a “storyteller with a brush, a custodian of the past.” “I try to place myself back in time and imagine situations that would make interesting and appealing pictures. I am intent on producing paintings that relate to the human experience and our Western heritage.”
In 1974, Lovell was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame and was later named a Hall of Fame Laureate. In 1975, he and his family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and he was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America the same year. In 1992, both the National Academy of Western Art and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame honored Lovell with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a prestigious one man retrospective show. He was the first artist to ever win the Prix de West – the National Academy of Western Art’s highest honor – twice.
Source: Cowboy Artists of America
Throat Spray M1
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Pencil Study | 24” x 28”
Working side by side in dungarees, Tom Lovell and John Clymer often used each other as models. This idea came from boot camp experience at Parris Island where, with 80 men in a barracks, if anyone caught a cold, everyone shared it. Tom made it the subject of a Leatherneck cover, and John obligingly posed for this painting.
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)
Captain Clark’s Air Gun
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: 24”h x 38”w
The Mud Owl’s Warning
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Oil (1975) | Image Size: 23”h x 41”w; Framed Size: 32”h x 50”w
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Oil (1976) | Image Size: 20”h x 36”w; Framed Size: 29”h x 45”w
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Oil (1974) | Image Size: 22”h x 40”w; Framed Size: 32”h x 49”w
Pony Tracks & Empty Saddles
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Pencil Study (1982) | Image Size: 40”h x 31”w; Framed Size: 48”h x 39”w
In the book entitled “The Art of Tom Lovell: An Invitation To History”, published by Greenwich Workshop in 1993, authored by Don Hedgpeth and Walt Reed, an image of this painting appears as does the following narrative: “The element of surprise was a major weapon in the arsenal of the Apache. They struck their enemies in lightning-swift raids and withdrew as suddenly. If pursued, they prepared ambushes in narrow, rocky canyons to deal a second deadly blow. In this scene, the rear guard has reported such a pursuing force. Some warriors drop off at strategic points along the canyon, while others continue on with the horses, leaving tracks which will make it appear that the raiders are still in retreat. The enemy of the Apache would learn to fear places like this where steep rock walls blocked out the sun and death waited in the shadows. One such place came to be known as Apache Pass, a narrow six-mile-long canyon between the Dragoon and Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. Spaniards, Mexicans and Americans learned about guerrilla warfare, the hard way, on the dim trail that led through Apache Pass.”
Pony Tracks & Empty Saddles
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Oil (1983) | Image Size: 40”h x 32”w; Framed Size: 51”h x 43”w
“Ambush is as old as warfare itself. A party of Western Apaches, having been trailed for several days, lays the groundwork for an ambush. Keeping their ponies at a slow walk, more than half of the men will climb onto slick rock leaving no trace of their dismounting. They will lie in wait and open fire on their unsuspecting pursuers. Once more the element of surprise will take its toll.” – Tom Lovell on his work Pony Tracks & Empty Saddles (1983)
First Horses for the Brulé Sioux
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Oil (1995) | Image Size: 20”h x 36”w
During the 1770’s, a small party of young #Sioux made a trading journey to the Southland and saw horses for the first time. They exchanged all their trade goods for several of the wonderful creatures and took turns riding and running alongside on their way home. Old ladies and family members mocked their sunburned thighs, earning them the name Brulé Cuisse, French for sunburned thighs. The name stuck and the introduction of the horse to the Sioux changed lives forever.
Tom Lovell unveiled this piece at the 1995 Prix de West Exhibition held at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
No Room at the Inn
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Oil (1996) | Image Size: 34”h x 26”w; Framed Size: 44 ½”h x 37”w
It is early morning in a Nez Perce camp with a dust of snow on the ground. A wisp of smoke tells that one family is awake and a lonesome sorrel pony has pulled his picket pin and walked over to push at the teepee flap for attention. A young mother and small boy appear and petting begins a happy day; not the first time nor the last. This narrative was provided by the artist in long hand and appears on the reverse side of the painting.
Lakota, Tuft of Grass
Artist: Tom Lovell (b. 1909)Description: Charcoal (1996) | Image Size: 18”h x 24”w; Framed Size: 24 ¾”h x 30 7/8”w