Many of today’s Western artists proudly carry on that tradition. One of those is Wyoming’s Larry Edgar, who is meticulous about representing the Old West as accurately as possible, right down to clothing, tack, firearms and historic settings.
Born, raised and still living in northwest Wyoming, Edgar became interested in history, archaeology and art as a boy growing up near Cody. After high school, he attended nearby Northwest Wyoming College, majoring in Fine Arts.
“I always enjoyed art, doing that kind of thing when I was a kid in high school,” he told OldWestNewWest.Com. “I worked under a German artist in Cody, Adolph Spohr, then went into portrait work, and then went into historic Western work.”
Being tutored by Spohr, a Western muralist, was no small feat. Edgar also became friends with Nick Eggenhoffer, a frontier painter, student of Western history and one of the most celebrated illustrators of Western pulp fiction.
“I guess you could say I have an advantage in that I do a lot of historical work,” Edgar said. “I usually go to the actual site where the event happened. Then I do my own modeling with people in costumes. After awhile you get a good sense of costumes, and how they used to wear something.”
How does he go about creating one of his historic paintings?
First he finds a subject that interests him, he explained, then goes through a process of how he wants to depict the event, then how to stage the scene. His attention to detail and research efforts (and talent, of course) has brought him many awards, including six Wyoming State Historical Fine Arts Awards.
Edgar first began working in oils and watercolors, then in 1988 moved into sculpting and bronzes. In 1996 he won the Sponsor’s Choice Award for his bronze “Brothers of the Gun” at the Douglas Invitational Art Show. That work is now on permanent display at the State Pioneer Memorial Museum in Douglas, Wyoming.
One of Larry’s paintings, “Waiting for the Stage,” will appear as cover art for the Western novel, Ride the Trail of Death, to be released this fall by La Frontera Publishing and distributed through the University of New Mexico Press.
How did he come up with the idea for “Waiting for the Stage?”
“I was thinking about the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stage of the late 1800s,” he said. “There were a lot of robberies on that stage by a lot of road agents. Those guys made their living by robbing stages, and there was always danger.”
The scene in Edgar’s painting depicts three road agents on horseback, rifles and a shotgun at the ready, waiting for the stage to appear.
Currently, Edgar is working on a new project that depicts two civilians who made a last stand against Cheyenne warriors, part of the Fetterman’s Massacre history that took place in December 1866 near Fort Philip Kearney.
“It was quite a fight,” he added.
Edgar, and his wife, Jan, work out of their Western Heritage Studio in Meeteetse, Wyoming. Much of his work can be seen by visiting his Web site at www.westernheritagestudio.com.