Howard Terpning (b. 1927)
Treasure in the Desert (2012)
oil on canvas
32 × 42 inches
signed and dated lower right
Sold at Auction: $736,200
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In Tribute to the Plains People Harley Brown wrote “The American West fascinated Howard even during his illustration career, and eventually it became the ultimate motivation in his art. With his move to Arizona, Howard devoted himself almost exclusively to depiction of Plains Indians including Blackfoot, Crow, Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche, Apache and Pawnee. He particularly favors the period beginning in the late eighteenth century when a Great Plains culture of Indians thrived with horses and buffalo. Howard’s research includes books, museums and artifact collections (including his own extensive collection). He photographs anything he comes across that might add authenticity to a future painting.
He never turns down an invitation to observe and participate in contemporary Indian ceremonies, of which he has witnessed many.”
According to Howard Terpning, “Metal of any kind was useful to Native people. They showed their ingenuity by converting discarded materials into tools and weapons that served a purpose. In this scene, abandoned iron wagon wheel rims will be fashioned into knives, lance points, arrow points, and whatever else is needed to help the People survive.
“The crumbling adobe structure in the background could have been built originally for any number of uses and has obviously been abandoned for many years. The Apache people, particularly scouting and war parties traveled great distances all across Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Mexico, so these men may have just discovered this site or perhaps were well aware of its existence but were just now collecting their ‘treasure.’ At any rate, they will make good use of their find.”