AUCTION 23

 

“Arizona’s first cowboy artist”

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411. MEGARGEE, Lon [Alonzo] III. The Cowboy Builds a Loop. Pictures by Lon Megargee. Text by Roy George. [Phoenix], 1933. 121 [1, blank] pp., 28 wood block plates. 4to, original stamped tan boards. Light wear to board edges, previous owner’s book plate and ink markings on inside upper board, tape stain on front free end sheet, text unopened, else fine. Personal letter from Lon Megargee affixed to front free end sheet.

     First edition, limited edition (no limitation statement). Megargee’s letter affixed to this item states that he produced 500 signed and numbered copies of this edition to be sold at $3.50, but this copy has no signature or number. Arizona Musecum of Natural History in the recent exhibit "Lon Megargee: Legendary Prints of the Southwest" commented on the artist's work: "Arizona Republic art critic Richard Nilsen called Megargee’s prints 'punchy, idiomatic and beautifully drawn,' and noted how remarkable it is that 'a painter, known for his color, could also think so clearly in black and white.' Arizona historian Marshall Trimble called Megargee 'Arizona’s first cowboy artist.'" See also Cindy Winkelman, Lon Megargee: Arizona's Cowboy Artist (1997).

     Lon (Alonzo) Megargee (February 9, 1883 to January 24, 1960) moved to the American Southwest at the age of 13, following the death of his father in Philadelphia. By the age of 16 Lon was working as a cowboy and later as a rancher. However, by 1909, his romantic vision of cowboy life had softened and Lon turned to his love of art and forged a career as a painter and illustrator. His training and confidence allowed him to progress quickly and, in 1913, he was commissioned to paint 15 iconic murals for the Arizona State Capitol Building. Lon later worked illustrating Western fiction book covers and, most significantly, began to create wood blocks of Western scenes. In 1933, he produced The Cowboy Builds a Loop, a limited edition book containing a group of 28 woodblock images. The prints are noteworthy for their strong design, narrative content, and quality. Subjects include Southwest Indians and cowboys, Hispanic men and women, cattle, horses, burros, pioneers, trappers, sheepherders, horse traders, squaw men and ranch polo players. The text, a series of poems written by Roy George, was produced on letterpress and complements the strong images.

     Modern dealers regularly indicate that the production run of this book was around 250 copies, though Megargee’s letter included with this volume clearly states that he produced 500 copies. The current item is not numbered or signed as it was offered as a “sample” for potential buyers. Overall, a scarce item.

($250-500)

Auction 23 Abstracts

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