VERY RARE, Last Known Sketchbook of Diné Artist Harrison Begay


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Harrison Begay, Diné Artist of the Navajo Nation
  • Category: Drawings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium:
    pencil on paper in Strathmore Field Sketchbook
  • Size: 12” x 8-¾” each page
  • Item # C4374A
  • Price: $4000

Those who appreciate artwork of the Navajo Nation will be excited by this extraordinary find: the last known sketchbook of Diné artist Harrison Begay.  A collector of Begay’s artworks acquired this sketchbook at Flagstaff, Arizona’s Americana Indian Show.  This acquisition happened in 2013—not long after Begay’s passing.  We are pleased that the collector’s estate has allowed us to make it available for sale. The sketchbook itself is a Field Strathmore Sketchbook containing recycled acid-free paper.  Taped into the interior of the book’s cover is a photograph of Begay.  He’s smiling, proudly holding a large painting.  He’s not a young man in this photograph, which suggests to us that it was taken around the same time this sketchbook is known to have been used.  Sketch by Harrison Begay

The sketchbook contains 18 pages of pencil drawings.  Some are fully-formed images, and others are just the beginnings of ideas.  Some are signed, others are not.  Some contain the rain cloud and guardian rainbow designs that frequently adorned his paintings, and others focus only on the primary human or animal subjects.  Some contain fairly elaborate natural settings, others include just a single line as a ground plane. Some are precise and detailed, and others look as if they were composed hastily. Collectors of Begay’s paintings will find many familiar images within this book.  They’re not all familiar, though—there are a few ideas included here that may have never made it all the way to the painting stage.  Looking through this sketchbook is a treat, as it provides a glimpse into the creative process of one of the most influential Diné artists.

Sketch by Harrison BegayHarrison 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.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Very Rare, Last Known Sketchbook of Diné Artist Harrison Begay is from the estate of a collector who purchased it at the Americana Indian Show in 2013

Recommended Reading: THE JAMES T. BIALAC Native American Art Collection, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2012

Relative Links: Diné - Navajo NationNative American PaintingsHarrison BegayDorothy DunnClara Lee Tanner