Robert Chee Untitled Painting of a Diné Man and Donkeys


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Robert Chee, Diné Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: casein
  • Size:
    17-¼” x 16” image;
    25” x 23-½” framed
  • Item # C4564D
  • Price: $1200

Close up view of a section of this painting.

This original painting was created by Diné artist Robert Chee.  It features a young Diné man riding on a donkey’s back, with a second, small donkey nearby.  Something in the distance, off to the viewer’s right, has caught the attention of this trio of travelers, as they all stare intensely in the same direction.  Up above, a Yei figure travels across a sky full of birds and wispy clouds.  Further into the distance, sandstone mesas appear, first in red and then in smoky blue-gray.

Chee’s work here is very good, as usual.  His figures are accessible and appealing, and his color choices are attractive.  He often used very bright colors, but here, he selected more muted tones.  Greens, grays, and blues are set over a soft tan background, making this arid desert scene feel gentle and inviting.

Artist Signature of Robert Chee, Diné of the Navajo Nation PainterThe painting is signed Robert Chee in lower right.  It is ready to display, in a carved wood frame and gray matting.

Robert Chee (1937-1971) Hashke-Yil-e-Cale was a Diné painter whose life and career were, unfortunately, very short. Chee's mother recognized his talent and enrolled him at Brigham, Utah's Inter-Mountain School. There, he studied with famous Apache artist Allan Houser.  He was in the military from 1958 to 1961, and was actively creating art then, too, painting murals in Army facilities in Germany. Chee's paintings are almost always in keeping with the traditional Diné style, which had already been made recognizable by artists like Harrison Begay, Quincy Tahoma, and Gerald Nailor. The influence of these predecessors is clear in his paintings, particularly in his subjects' faces. The fine lines and incredible detail for which the pioneering Diné painters are rightfully celebrated is present in Chee's strongest works. Chee died in 1971, at just 34 years old.

Condition: this painting is in excellent condition

Provenance: This Robert Chee Untitled Painting of a Diné Man and Donkeys is from a private collection

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

Relative Links: Diné of the Navajo NationAllan HouserApacheNative American PaintingsRobert Chee, Diné Painter

Close up view of a section of this painting.