William Herbert “Buck” Dunton

Posted on May 5, 2017

It was back to the Fechin house for me. Twice in two weeks!

I cheerfully popped into the new show of paintings and drawings of W. Herbert “Buck” Dunton at the Taos Art Museum. Happy to wear my Stetson Stratoliner on a pretty sunny day with a slight chill in the air. The week before, I pleasantly came into contact with Lions Club member and docent at the museum, Cindy Atkins. We chatted for a while and I decided to make it a date.

Surprisingly the bulk of the show features the drawings/lithographs of Buck. I was only aware of the paintings. It was a treat to see the range of media he worked in. Some of the most charming drawings were of wildlife. The nature scenes featured bears and deer going about their day in the soft and precisely rendered gradients of shadows on foliage and rock.

The animal drawings gave way to an impressive series of sketches and b/w renderings. I appreciated 15 or 20 portraits. These were crisply rendered and filled with life. He really excelled at conjuring detailed and expressive characters.

He made a career illustrating magazine stories and books that featured tales from the wild west. One of the most energetic paintings was rendered in grey. Grisaille was used because it could be easily used in the book printing process.

We should probably focus a bit on the work most people are aware of, his dramatically illuminated oils.

“Dunton worked as a ranch hand as a youth and studied at the Cowles Art School in Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to New York City around 1903, where he worked as an illustrator for publishing companies. In 1912 he briefly studied at the Art Student’s League, where Ernest Blumenschein told him about Taos, New Mexico.” – Wikipedia