Born Augusta, ME 1878 - died Taos, NM 1936
A Mainer brought out west by the love of adventure and the outdoors, W. Herbert “Buck” Dunton was a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists from 1915 through 1922. As a boy he grew up exploring the Maine woods with his grandfather, hunting, and enjoying nature. In 1896 he traveled to Montana, and that visit ignited a spark that lasted a lifetime. He was a ranch hand, cowboy, and newspaper illustrator.
By 1903 his art career took off and he headed to New York with a bride in tow. He began to study under Ernest Blumenschein in 1911 at the Art Students League. It was there that Blumenschein suggested that Dunton pay a visit to Taos, New Mexico. By 1914, Dunton permanently relocated to Taos where “he was able to thrive as a western illustrator, combining his two loves -- hunting and painting… In an interview, W. Herbert Dunton stated, ‘This is the ideal place for me because there are more varieties of atmosphere than I have found in any other place. . . there are several varieties of sage and cactus for backgrounds, according to the elevation that you choose. The Taos Indians are as fine types as I have ever seen and if one wants to paint a Mexican picture he can get a background almost anywhere near Taos” (Dunton.org).
Dunton pushed the boundaries of romanticization of Western art by inputting his own experiences and feelings into his work. He exhibited a strong sense of urgency to portray the west as he felt the modern world creeping in. In October of 1924, he is quoted in The American Magazine of Art, saying,
"The West has passed-more's the pity. In another twenty-five years the old-time westerner will have gone too -- gone with the buffalo and the antelope. I'm going to hand down to posterity a bit of unadulterated real thing, if it's the last thing I do- and I'm going to do it, muy pronto.”
He fell in love with the land and wildlife, something that was later noted as being controversial in a time where conservation wasn’t thought of.
An Homage to W. Herbert Dunton is the fourth in Blue Rain Gallery’s series of “The Taos Six Collection,” a series paying tribute to the founding artists of the Taos Society of Artists. Blue Rain artists paint their interpretation of selected works. In many ways, the Taos Society of Artists can be credited for putting Taos on the map and creating a rich art culture in the west. Though Dunton’s time in the society was brief, his work is still influential and relevant today. You can view Dunton’s original work on exhibition at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, NM.