The Fine Art Group is pleased to announce Western Art and Design from Bar Cross Ranch, Wyoming, brought to sale through Sotheby’s and to go live on January 19th, 2023.
The Fine Art Group’s Agency department was integral to curating and acquiring this collection, designing a historical narrative in harmony with the collection’s past location on a ranch in Wyoming, an iconic location also known for being where Grateful Dead’s lyricist John Perry Barlow and founding member Bob Weir composed music for the band.
Anita Heriot, President, Americas, states, “There is nothing more rewarding as an advisor than to work with a collector hand in hand to build a collection with meaning. The Bar Cross Collection at its very core is a celebration of those Native Americans of the territory and those who depicted the West at a crucial period of transformation.”
Bidding begins on January 19th, 2024.
IMPORTANT SELECTIONS FROM THE BAR CROSS RANCH COLLECTION
THE WEST IN ART
The Bar Cross Ranch collection of fine and decorative art is centered on the art of the Plains, whether by white European artists drawn out West to capture the landscape or the image and culture of the Plains Indians or by the nomadic tribes that once lived in Wyoming, such as the Crow, Sioux, Arapaho and Blackfeet; or the material culture of the ranchers, settlers, the cowboys that developed into rough-hewn aesthetic of the lodge and dude ranch.
The collection includes work by George Catlin, Thomas Moran, Charles Marion Russell, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Rosa Bonheur. Of note is George Catlin’s monumental work, the North American Indian Portfolio. The Portfolio was the product of not only the artist’s years of work on the Plains but also of promotion and touring with his Indian Gallery to finance the project.
THE ART OF THE WEST
The Bar Cross Ranch Collection includes:
- Numerous ledger drawings.
- Beaded bags to store and transport goods.
- A bow and arrows.
- Painted hides produced by artists and craftspeople of North American tribes.
Form followed function, and design was often dictated by purpose. Paintings on hide, clothing, or tipis were not executed for art’s sake but recorded natural, political, and cultural history. While the materials and sometimes techniques adapted to changing resources, the densely layered purpose of the objects remained.
THE WESTERN AESTHETIC
A distinct domestic aesthetic emerged as settlers, homesteaders, holiday ranchers, and artists moved to the frontier. Furniture was inspired by the rustic ranch style made with materials at hand and contemporary decorative arts, such as Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. These styles were adapted in silverware, jewelry, stained glass, and wood-carving to evoke Native American designs and the Western landscape. Forms were simple, with an emphasis on the materials and the hand of the craftsman.
The collection includes numerous examples of hand-crafted arts & crafts furniture and lamps by Roycroft and Stickley, Van Briggle pottery, and the luminous Rookwood Indian Portrait Vases based on photographs by Frank Rinehart and Alexander Gardner, amongst others. The largest single-maker grouping in the collection is that of Thomas Molesworth furniture and lighting. Molesworth, a Wyoming-based designer, is of particular interest as he was an interior designer who insisted on a holistic aesthetic throughout the home.
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