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NA.202.394 - Beaded hat. Seth's favorite!
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Bama began his career as an illustrator. He painted this work of art as a cover illustration for the paperback edition of The Adventures of the Negro Cowboys published by Bantam Books in 1969. Bama's image is based on a well-known photograph of Nat Love, an African-American cowboy who worked as a cowhand and earned a reputation as a talented roper. Love identified himself with the dime novel hero, Deadwood Dick, and often referred to himself by that name. Bama's heroic presentation of Nat Love served as a fitting image for the publication seen above. In preparing the composition, Bama left open space around the figure, so the cover text could be added without disrupting the subject matter. Until recently, this painting was part of a private collection, and was not publicly displayed or reproduced, except as a book cover.
The Adventures of the Negro Cowboys
Philip Durham and Everett L. Jones
Bantam Books, 1969
Many cowboys and cattlemen of the West wrote books about themselves that often stretched the truth. Nat Love's autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love: Better Known in the Cattle Country as "Deadwood Dick," - By Himself, followed in that tradition. According to authors Durham and Jones, questions remain surrounding Love's adventures, but he presents a good story that tells much about the West, as well as about the part that one African-American may have played in its development. African-Americans made important contributions to the settling of the West, a role only recently acknowledged.