2024 Coeur d’Alene Art Auction19 / 80  •  View Catalog  •   • 

William Herbert Dunton (1878 – 1936)
Return from the Hunt (1908)
oil on canvas
30 × 20 inches
43 × 33 × 4.5 inches (framed)
signed and dated lower left

Return from the Hunt will be included in Michael R. Grauer’s forthcoming W. Herbert Dunton Catalogue Raisonné.

According to art historian Michael R. Grauer, “As W. Herbert Dunton wrote in his unpublished story simply titled ‘Bear!’, bruins fascinated him even as a child: ‘For, to me, a bear seemed to belong to those bygone years of the screaming panther and skulking Indian with his war whoop and bloody tomahawk.’ An avid hunter and fisherman most of his life, Dunton became enamored of the outdoors at an early age. Accompanying his grandfather on excursions into the New England countryside, he often carried a sketch pad along with his rod or rifle. He wrote and illustrated hunting articles for The Amateur Sportsman, American Rifleman, and National Sportsman magazines, and three unpublished stories on hunting and wildlife, ‘Two Boys and a Gun,’ ‘Buffalo,’ and ‘Bear!’

“I believe Return from the Hunt may be part of a series of three and possibly four paintings Dunton created in 1908 and 1909. One of the other two paintings may depict the same hunter seen in the far background of the painting with a white-faced grizzly in the foreground. In the other painting the hunter – wearing the same wool, mackinaw cruiser coat and lace up hunting boots and shouldering a Winchester Model 1895 rifle as in Return from the Hunt – stands in knee-deep blood-stained snow while being attacked by and shooting the same wounded grizzly. Return from the Hunt clearly shows the grizzly’s head and hide tied to the back of a saddle horse being led down a snow-covered mountain by the hunter shouldering a Winchester 1895 rifle. The other two paintings were originally owned by collectors in the Midwest.

Return from the Hunt and the other grizzly paintings are based on Dunton’s own experiences as a contract meat hunter in Montana in the late 1890s. By 1906 Dunton’s popularity as a Western and outdoor illustrator began to soar, resulting in commissions from magazines such as Collier’s, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Harper’s Monthly, Popular Magazine, and Scribner’s, and from publishers of outdoor and Western calendars. The dimensions of Return from the Hunt are consistent with his magazine, book, and calendar illustrations. Dunton’s wildlife and outdoor paintings, including White Faced Grizzly, rivaled those of his close friend Philip R. Goodwin.

“Grizzlies remained a favorite subject throughout his career. As I wrote in the 1991 Dunton retrospective catalogue: ‘[Dunton] had hunted bears for much of his life and knew them perhaps better than any artist in the West, inside and out.’ After he became head of the Taos fish and game conservation group in the late ’teens, and his health began to fail in the late 1920s, he preferred to ‘dry’ hunt, and only ‘took’ big game with palette and brush, pencil and paper by 1930.

Return from the Hunt would be an excellent addition to any collection of Western, outdoor, and sporting art.”

PROVENANCE
Franklin Benjamin Harrison, Toledo, Ohio, ca. 1918
Present owner, by descent

LITERATURE
JHStyle Magazine, Winter / Spring 2023-24, cover, illustrated

William Herbert Dunton

1878 – 1936

Return from the Hunt (1908)
oil on canvas
30 × 20 inches
43 × 33 × 4.5 inches (framed)
signed and dated lower left
$150,000 – 250,000
Condition ReportSurface is in good condition. Canvas is lined. Speck of inpainting at edges of frame.

Important Notice: Statements of condition are provided as a service to potential bidders; such statements are educated opinions and should not be regarded as facts. The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction has no responsibility for any errors or omissions.