A smoking cowboy reaches for his six-shooter in this wonderfully evocative etching by A. J. Van Leshout. Van Leshout was a native of Illinois. While working for a Milwakuee, Wisconsin, newspaper, the artist went to South Dakota to capture the hard lives of the homesteaders and the Indians. In Edna Kohl’s 1938 book Land of the Burnt Thigh, Van Leshout is said to have “made a success of his Indian art” because he had come “to know these people (the Sioux) better than any of us.” Van Leshout would work for newspapers in Chicago, Illinois, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles, California. He came to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1914, where he worked as a staff artist and cartoonist for the Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times. In 1921 he was running the Louisville School of Art, where he installed an etching press, and the area saw a flowering of printmaking that continued into the 1940s.
Our cowboy etching dates from the 1930s. Though it is not signed or dated, we have seen other Western scenes marked in the plate with his initials and dated 1930. So the works were among the last he did and represent an early part of his life.
9 by 7 1/4 inches (image)
11 by 11 (paper)
© 2017 Warren and Julie Payne