Original Painting of Two Young Diné Men on Horseback by Harrison Begay

C4383B-paint.jpg

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Harrison Begay, Navajo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    10-¼ x 15-⅜” image;
    16-⅞” x 22-⅛” framed
  • Item # C4383B
  • Price: $1,500.00

Close up view of the cute dog.

This untitled Navajo painting was created by influential Diné painter Harrison Begay.  It features two young Diné men on horseback.  They are dressed for a special occasion, wearing plenty of jewelry.  They’re smiling as they travel across the Navajo Nation.  To their right, a young horse and a small dog keep pace. The backward motion of their ropes and their headbands’ knots confirms that they’re moving at full speed.  In the background, a pair of birds circle an otherwise empty sky.  A smattering of plants covers the ground, and a blue framing line surrounds the bottom half of the image.

This image is classic Begay.  It is warm and endearing, and it was crafted with great skill.  The horses’ earthy tones complement the young men’s soft pastels quite naturally.  The linework is fine and detailed, defining each figure with incredible delicacy.  They boys’ faces are particularly interesting here, and the horses’ expressive eyes are a treat.  This is a fine example of Harrison Begay doing what he did best: depicting Diné life with undeniable charm.

Clara Lee Tanner’s Southwest Indian Painting: A Changing Art provides a great description of Begay’s strengths:  “Extreme delicacy becomes uppermost in this artist’s works with lines so fine that it seems impossible that they could have been made with a brush.  Coupled with this are the keen powers of observation of which the Indian has more than his share. In Begay’s work there is often the disciplined balance between the heavy formalities of inherited tradition and a warm realism which developed within a very short span of years . . . Begay evolved a style that is essentially his own, a style which influenced others, but which has not been equaled in perfection by any of those he has so greatly affected.  Lines that breathe rhythm; clean, cool, and sensitive coloring; a gentleness of figure; peace and calm throughout, from facial expression to composition; impeccable drawing, the best in Navajo art; simplicity coupled with realistic detail; few and conventional plant forms or other background effects; harmony and serenity—these and other more elusive traits and qualities are combined in the inimitable Begay manner.”

This painting is signed “Harrison Begay” in lower right and “Haskay Yahne Yah” in lower left.  It is framed under acrylic and two layers of matting in a simple wood frame.

Harrison Begay (1917-2012) was a world-renowned Diné (Navajo) painter who is generally regarded as one of the most successful and influential early Native American painters.  Begay studied under Dorothy Dunn at the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930s, and then attended colleges in North Carolina and Arizona. From 1942 to 1945, he served in the US Army Signal Corps.  In 1947, Begay returned to the Navajo reservation, where he enjoyed a long and productive career as a painter. He is known to have continued painting into his 90s. Begay passed away in 2012, leaving behind a large body of work and a lasting legacy in the world of Native art.

In 1951, an arts silk-screen printing business called Tewa Enterprises was started in Santa Fe by Charles Barrows, a silkscreen printer, and Harrison Begay, the Navajo painter.  It was Begay’s desire to make Native art available to the masses.  Most of his silkscreen prints were signed but not numbered.  This painting, however, is an original painting and not a silkscreen print.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenancethis Original Painting of Two Young Diné Men on Horseback by Harrison Begay is  from the large collection of a Washington resident

Reference: Southwest Indian Painting: a changing art by Clara Lee Tanner

Close up view of one of the riders.
Harrison Begay, Navajo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    10-¼ x 15-⅜” image;
    16-⅞” x 22-⅛” framed
  • Item # C4383B
  • Price: $1,500.00

C4383B-paint.jpgC4383B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.