Enormous Navajo Painting of a Man and Many Horses by Harrison Begay

C4383A-paint.jpg

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Harrison Begay, Navajo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    30-¾” x 38-⅝” image;
    33-⅝” x 41-¾” framed
  • Item # C4383A
  • Price: $3,850.00

Beautiful sun symbolism.

This enormous painting is one of the largest pieces we’ve seen from influential Diné artist Harrison Begay.  The painting’s subject is a Diné man herding a group of horses.  The horses cover the majority of the image, galloping across the Navajo Reservation.  The man, wearing a loin cloth and moccasins, follows behind them on his own horse.  He waves a blanket above his head.  In the background, steep rock formations rise into a clear sky.  A sun design hangs in the center of the sky, shining light onto the scene below.  Birds fly between the rock formations.  A few young horses and a single donkey run along with the herd.

Begay’s horses are made of a variety of earthy colors.  Each one was completed with the great care that is typical of Begay’s figures.  The man is excellent, too.  He’s muscular and animated, herding away with wide eyes and an open mouth.  Begay used his signature soft pastel colors for the rock formations.  They’re pink, purple, and blue, which might seem unusual to the viewer who’s unfamiliar with Begay’s work.  Of course, it works well.  His images always have an easygoing charm about them, thanks in part to these warm pastels.  The cream color of the board upon which all of this is painted works very well with the pastel tones.  At nearly three feet in height and over three feet in width, this is a huge image.  It is always a treat to find a Harrison Begay painting that, like this one, stands out from the many we’ve handled over the years.

Both signatures by this artist Harrison Begay (Haskay Yahne Yah - The Wandering BoyThis painting is signed Harrison Begay in lower right and Haskay Yahne Yah in lower left.  It is framed under acrylic with no matting in a simple wood frame.

Harrison Begay (1917-2012) Haskay Yahne Yah - The Wandering Boy* 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.

Note: Most published references to Harrison Begay state that the translation of his name Haskay Yahne Yah is Warrior Who Walked Up to His Enemy. The correct translation is The Wandering Boy. Thanks to Jim C. Hunt for bringing this to our attention. Hunt’s father spent the better part of his life on the Navajo reservation. He taught the Navajo language at Northland Pioneer College in Holbrook, AZ, and was beyond fluent in the language. It was he who told the younger Hunt the correct translation. Our thanks to the Hunts for this enlightenment.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Enormous Navajo Painting of a Man and Many Horses by Harrison Begay is from the large collection of a resident of Washington

Recommended Reading: Southwest Indian Painting: a changing art by Clara Lee Tanner

Relative Links: Diné - NavajoHarrison BegayDorothy DunnNative American Paintings

Close up view of the rider.

Harrison Begay, Navajo Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: watercolor
  • Size:
    30-¾” x 38-⅝” image;
    33-⅝” x 41-¾” framed
  • Item # C4383A
  • Price: $3,850.00

C4383A-paint.jpgC4383A-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.