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José Cisneros’ California Ranchero—Created at Dobie’s Paisano Ranch

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113.     CISNEROS, José. “Californian—1840.” Original finished pen and ink drawing on smooth glossy heavy paper mounted to three mat boards, signed in ink at lower right: “J. Cisneros Paisano.” Cisneros’ pencil notes along left margin: “This picture was done on Frank Dobie’s desk, at Paisano, where I began my series ‘Riders of the Spanish Borderlands.’ José Cisneros.” Very light pencil note in at top right, also in Cisneros’ hand, but at a later date: “Californian—1840.” 37.1 x 25.8 cm. A California rider faces right, mounted on his horse, which is equipped with a tooled saddle with round tapaderos, traditional jáquima, rectangular lidded leather alfora over saddle horn, fringed saddle blanket with geometric design, and reata attached to cantle; the rider holds braided romal reins, wears a low crowned, wide-brimmed sombrero held in place by a barbiquejo, bandana around neck loosely knotted at shoulder, short, tight-fitting dark bolero jacket with four silver conchas, white shirt with restrained embroidery, narrow sash at waist, knee-length breeches with side buttons, over-the-knee ornately tooled leather armitas. Other than a few minor spots, very fine.

     J. Frank Dobie’s Paisano Ranch, fourteen miles southwest of Austin in the Hill Country served as a retreat for Dobie and his friends to discuss life and literature. The ranch was preserved in its natural state after Dobie’s death as part of the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Project and became a retreat for writers and artists. Cisneros was a recipient of the first Paisano fellowship for an artist. Cisneros was an admirer of Dobie and enjoyed his time at Paisano Ranch, working hard and creating wonderful images like this one. See Handbook of Texas Online: Paisano Ranch.

     This finished pen and ink drawing represents the very best of Cisneros’ work, combining his deep knowledge of the historical context of his subject and his superlative drawing skills. He is known for his meticulously detailed pen and ink drawings of historical figures of the Spanish Borderlands and is especially renowned for his depictions of horses and horsemen. Of all the illustrators of the Borderlands and the Southwest, Cisneros’ depictions are the most historically accurate. Much of his work has been published in the form of book illustrations. Cisneros, a true gentleman of the Old School, was born in 1910 in Villa Ocampo, Mexico, and lived through the Mexican Revolution. Cisneros has been knighted by Pope Paul II and King Juan Carlos of Spain, and was awarded a National Humanities Medal in 2001. He currently resides in El Paso, Texas. With the institutionalization of the large body of Cisneros’ work, it will no longer be so easy to obtain examples of his work. For more information on Cisneros, see John O. West Cisneros: An Artist’s Journey. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1993.  Cisneros passed away on November 15, 2009.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,400.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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