Indian Beating a Drum
Etching and drypoint. Signed in the plate by Dixon, and signed in pencil lower right by the etcher Roi Partredge. Fine condition. Born on a ranch near Fresno, California in the San Joaquin Valley on January 24, 1875, Maynard Dixon (1875 - 1946), originally named Henry St. John Dixon which later changed to Lafayette Maynard Dixon on September 8, 1875, became a noted illustrator, landscape, and mural painter of the early 20th-century American West, especially the desert, Indians, early settlers, and cowboys. Maynard Dixon’s mentor, Charles Lummis, encouraged Dixon early in his painting career to leave California, and “travel East to see the real West”. Maynard Dixon did just that, traveling the many roads that crisscrossed the West: Montana, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Lasting weeks, to even months, these trips provided Maynard Dixon with the inspiration to create. He was forever drawn to the vistas and peoples inhabiting these remote western lands. When Maynard Dixon first visited Arizona, at the turn of the 20th century, it was wild, open territory, inhabited primarily by Hispanics and Native Americans. In 1902, he made his first visit to Lorenzo Hubbell’s Ganado trading post, and came away with wonderful sketches he would use as inspiration for many years to come. Viewing these works, one can imagine the awe Maynard Dixon felt in the raw beauty of the landscape and its inhabitants. He would return to Arizona many times, ultimately making Tucson his final home. The time Maynard Dixon spent in New Mexico from September 1931 through January 1932 was a happy, contented time for Dixon. Living with wife Dorothea Lange, and children John and Dan, in a house provided by his dear friend Mabel Dodge Luhan, Maynard Dixon completed some of his most productive, and inspired paintings. During the five-month stay, Maynard Dixon was very prolific, painting more than forty canvases of all sizes. Many of these paintings told a story about the interaction between the land and its people. At that time, Northern New Mexico was the heart of a thriving art community.The Taos Society, a group of well-trained and respected artists invited Maynard Dixon to join their exclusive alliance. True to form, Maynard Dixon declined the offer, finding their bylaws on which paintings could be exhibited too confining and rigid. Dixon, the self-taught, highly individualistic painter, had great inner strength and distinctiveness. The New Mexico period represents some of Maynard Dixon ‘s finest works, ones in which his special qualities are clearly imparted. The people Maynard Dixon depicted in his paintings reflect the cultural mix of the American West of the early 20th century. Maynard Dixon was delighted to live among all the peoples of the region, and his portrayals of the Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo inhabitants are without comparison. Maynard Dixon also used the human form to allude to more ethereal subjects. Some of his most poignant and gripping works were the handful of Great Depression-era paintings done in 1934 and 1935. Maynard Dixon’s wife, famed photographer Dorothea Lange, was devoted to chronicling the plight of the migrant workers and the San Francisco maritime worker’s strike. Her involvement undoubtedly influenced Maynard Dixon’s choice of this atypical subject matter. The images of expressionless men done in somber grays and blues show skillful use of light and shadow to accentuate the distress in the subjects he portrayed.