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“First Western Cattle Drive Illustration Which I Have Found In the National Illustrated Press” (Taft)

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224.  WAUD, A[lfred] R. A Drove of Texas Cattle Crossing a Stream-Sketched by A. R. Waud.-[See Page 666.]. New York, 1867.  Folio sheet with wood engraving on recto and text on verso, pp. 665-666, from the October 19, 1867, issue of Harper’s Weekly.  Engraved woodcut of a cattle drive showing crowded longhorns being driven across a shallow stream in the moonlight, with contemporary muted coloring in blue, green, tan, and pale yellow, image area:  23.3 x 35.3  cm.  Light marginal browning and a few minor spots, overall very good.  Rarely found with contemporary color, the effect of which is dramatic.

     “This drawing, which appeared in the fall of the same year in which the first big cattle drives from Texas to Kansas took place, was actually executed by the artist in southwestern Louisiana and shows Texas cattle being driven to market... It is the first presentation of a cattle drive in an American magazine” (Taylor & Maar, The American Cowboy, p. 36, illustrated). Taft (Artists and Illustrators of the Old West) comments:  “Its importance lies in the fact that it is the first Western cattle drive illustration which I have found in the national illustrated press.”    

     Kelsey, Engraved Prints of Texas 1554-1900, p. 149 (No. 5.140):  “Waud was said to be the first to use the word cowboy.”  English artist and correspondent A. R. Waud (1828-1891) was responsible for many important Civil War and Western views (including Custer’s Last Stand). Upon his arrival in the United States ca. 1858, he joined the staff of Harper’s Weekly and became one of the most prolific illustrators of that periodical.  He travelled extensively into the West on assignment after the Civil War, including western Louisiana and Texas.  See also Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators 1966.

     The accompanying text is entitled “Texas Cattle Raising” and discusses the importance of brands, the way cattle drives are accomplished, and sheepraising. Of cattle drives it is stated:  “Vast numbers of these cattle are driven on foot to the Mississippi River, and, after crossing it, into the interior of the cotton States.  Our illustration on page 665 shows a drove of them crossing a stream.  A drove of five hundred cattle is usually accompanied by a dozen men, drivers, cook, etc., mounted upon mustang ponies, a wild set, who plunge in and out of rivers, or rush in among stampedes in the most reckless way.  At night the cattle rest and feed, some of the men sleeping under a smudge of smoking grass and brush to keep off mosquitoes, while others ride around the herd upon watch.  If  the weather is very hot it is not unusual to travel part of the night and rest by day.” ($75-150)

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