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Sketches and paintings by Edgar S. Paxson

Examine several of Paxson's sketches for "Custer's Last Stand," the finished work, and one more unrelated work of his in our collection

A Buffalo Bill Center of the West Virtual Exhibit
Curated by: NancyM


Buffalo Hunt
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Paint...
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Exhibit notes: Buffalo Hunt

Museum record: 86.60 | 1905 | H: 26 in, width: 38 in, Frame height: 31.25 in, Frame width: 43.25 in | Buffalo Hunt | Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Ernest J. Goppert, Sr., in memory of Mary Jester Allen | The current title for this painting is not the artist's original title. In a June 23, 1905 diary entry, Paxson wrote, "I began working on a new oil, Turning the Worm, a buffalo hunt where the buffalo has turned on the hunter." A November 24, 1905 diary entry indicates Paxson had finished the painting, calling it When He is Bad. An inscription on the reverse reads When He's Mad. Further research may reveal which title is correct. | LRC: E S Paxson - / 1905 | Magazine: American Cowboy, Jesse Mullins, Jr., Editor, Unbroken Ground, by Cathy Orr, Sheridan, July/August 2004, page 32. | 86.60.JPG | 86.60.jpg | hunt | Group | buffalo | Figure | Landscape | Painting | oil on canvas | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Custer's Last Stand
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Paint...
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Exhibit notes: Custer's Last Stand

Museum record: 19.69 | 1899 | H: 70.5 in, width: 106 in, Frame height: 98 x 73.75 in, Frame width: 132.75 x 108.75 in, frame depth: 2 in | Custer's Last Stand | Museum purchase | Paxson researched the Battle of the Little Bighorn and spent several years completing the painting. He then circulated it as a traveling exhibition. As part of the explanatory material on the painting, he prepared an outline key which identified the major figures (see diagram at right). | LRC: copyright by/E.S. Paxson Butte/M./99 [verso, LL:] E.S. Paxson/Butte Mont. U.S.A./copyright applied for - | Source: Paxson Heirs | Magazine: Western Art & Architecture: From Cowboy to Contemporary; Perspective: Edgar S. Paxson: Painter, myth maker aspired to historical accuracy, Charles Finn, Winter/Spring 2008, page 72-73 | 19.69.JPG | 19.69.web.jpg | 19.69.jpg | 19.69.jpg | 19.69.jpg | 19.69.jpg | Group | Figure | Indian | military | Animal | Painting | oil on canvas | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Design for "Custe...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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Exhibit notes: Design for "Custer's Last Stand"

Museum record: 27.71.10 | 1899-1900 | H: 13.417 in, width: 21.701 in | Design for "Custer's Last Stand" | This drawing shows the complex compositional pattern of Paxson's painting of Custer's Last Stand, located on the west wall of the Whitney Gallery. Because this artist built his painting from initial sketches of individual figures, the outline drawing continues to preserve that approach. This design is signed and dated 1900, although the painting was completed in 1899. Having completed his major work, the artist may have gone back to his sketches to add signatures and dates, putting a 1900 on this drawing to signify the last work of the series. The painting is accurate, according to its own publicity, but questions remain with the passing of time and entwining of myth. This drawing shows the complex compositional pattern of Paxton's painting of Custer's Last Stand, located on the west wall of the Whitney Gallery. Paxton presented the Battle of the Little Bighorn as a grand historical painting and chose one moment in the battle to summarize the military action of an involved campaign. Custer and his men are shown dismounted and holding their ground as mounted Indians attack. By emphasizing the "last stand," Paxton presents Custer as a tragic heroic figure. Because this artist built his painting from initial sketches of individual figures, the outline drawing continues to reserve that approach. This design is signed and dated 1900, although the painting was completed in 1899. Having completed his major work, the artist may have gone back to his sketches to add signatures and dates, putting a 1900 on this drawing to signify the last work of the series. | LR: E.S. Paxson/1900 | Book: Messages From Montana; Executive Editor, Janice W. Kennedy; M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust; Vancouver; 2004; page 25 | 27.71.10.jpg | 27.71.10.JPG | 27.71.10.jpg | Group | Indian | military | Animal | Drawing | pencil | pen and ink on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketches f...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.14 | ca. 1895 | H: 3.438 in, width: 5.125 in | Pencil sketches for Custer's Last Stand | 27.71.14.jpg | 27.71.14.JPG | Figure | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketches f...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.13 | ca. 1895 | H: 3 in, width: 5.125 in | Pencil sketches for Custer's Last Stand | 27.71.13.jpg | 27.71.13.JPG | Figure | Drawing | Pencil on paper pasted on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketches f...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.12 | ca. 1897 | sight height: 7.375 in, sight width: 9 in | Pencil sketches for Custer's Last Stand | These two studies show Paxson working out the pose for the bugler in his 1899 oil painting Custer's Last Stand. The upper sketch is closer to the final version in which the bugler continues to sound his call as Custer's men fall. In the lower study of this grouping, Paxson drew a wounded soldier with a bugle lying beside him. | LL: Paxson/1897;LL: for Custer picture/By Paxson/1897 | Framed with 27.71.11 | 27.71.12.jpg | 27.71.12.JPG | Figure | Drawing | pen and ink on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.7 | ca. 1895 | H: 4.688 in, width: 3 in | Pencil sketch for Custer's Last Stand | LLC: Custer Battle | 27.71.7.jpg | 27.71.7.JPG | military | Figure | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.3 | ca. 1895 | H: 4.625 in, width: 3 in | Pencil sketch for Custer's Last Stand | 27.71.3.jpg | 27.71.3.JPG | Figure | military | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.2 | ca. 1895 | H: 4.688 in, width: 3 in | Pencil sketch for Custer's Last Stand | 27.71.2.jpg | 27.71.2.JPG | military | Figure | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.5 | ca. 1895 | H: 3.188 in, width: 4.875 in | Pencil sketch for Custer's Last Stand | URS: U.S. | 27.71.5.jpg | 27.71.5.JPG | military | Figure | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.4 | ca. 1895 | H: 4.75 in, width: 3.125 in | Pencil sketch for Custer's Last Stand | LLC: Custer Battle | 27.71.4.jpg | 27.71.4.JPG | Figure | military | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.6 | ca. 1895 | H: 4.688 in, width: 3 in | Pencil sketch for Custer's Last Stand | URS: U.S. | 27.71.6.jpg | 27.71.6.JPG | Figure | military | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Pencil Sketch for...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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27.71.1 | ca. 1895 | H: 4.688 in, width: 3 in | Pencil Sketch for Custer's Last Stand | 27.71.1.jpg | 27.71.1.JPG | military | Figure | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Study for Dying T...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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Exhibit notes: Study for dying trumpeter

Museum record: 27.71.11 | ca. 1897 | sight height: 9 in, sight width: 7.5 in | Study for Dying Trumpeter | These two studies show Paxson working out the pose for the bugler in his 1899 oil painting Custer's Last Stand. The upper sketch is closer to the final version in which the bugler continues to sound his call as Custer's men fall. In the lower study of this grouping, Paxson drew a wounded soldier with a bugle lying beside him. | LR: Paxson;LR: for Custer/By Paxson | Framed with 27.71.12 | 27.71.11.JPG | 27.71.11.jpg | Figure | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Study for Soldier...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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Exhibit notes: Study for soldier

Museum record: 27.71.8 | 1897 | sight height: 8.283 in, sight width: 10.701 in | Study for Soldier in Custer's Last Stand | Paxson researched the Battle of the Little Bighorn and made numerous drawings to plan his composition. Captain E.S. Godfrey, one of his sources, wrote that one of the three causes of Custer's defeat was "the defective extraction of empty cartridge-shells from the carbines." Paxson made a point of illustrating that idea. | in pencil LL: Paxson "97";in pencil LL: for Custer Picture/By/Paxson/97;on back LL: (stamped and written) WILLIAM EDGAR PAXSON #107/812 CALMOSA AVE./WHITTIER, CALF. 90602/All Rights Reserved. | Framed with 27.71.9 | 27.71.8.jpg | 27.71.8.JPG | military | Figure | Drawing | ink | pen | paper | pencil | Paxson, Edgar Samuel

Study for Wounded...
Paxson, Edgar Samuel | Drawi...
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Exhibit notes: Study for wounded soldier extracting cartridge shell with pocket knife

Museum record: 27.71.9 | 1898 | H: 9.875 in, width: 8.283 in | Study for Wounded Soldier Extracting Cartridge Shell with Pocket Knife | Paxson researched the Battle of the Little Bighorn and made numerous drawings to plan his composition. Captain E.S. Godfrey, one of his sources, wrote that one of the three causes of Custer's defeat was "the defective extraction of empty cartridge-shells from the carbines." Paxson made a point of illustrating that idea. | UR: Paxson/98;UR: For Custer/By Paxson/98 | framed with 27.71.8 | 27.71.9.jpg | 27.71.9.JPG | military | Figure | Springfield carbine | Drawing | pencil on paper | Paxson, Edgar Samuel