Editor's note: The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


Capturing Texas Legends: H. D. Bugbee's Panhandle Frontier and Those Who Came Before Us: The Indian Murals of H. D. Bugbee

March 26, 2005 through March 2006


Capturing Texas Legends: H. D. Bugbee's Panhandle Frontier is a selection of H.D. Bugbee's ranching series, painted for the museum's collection while he was Curator of Art. Those Who Came Before Us: The Indian Murals of H. D. Bugbee presents H.D. Bugbee's mural series painted for the former "Indian Hall." This exhibition will include sketches and studies for the murals so as to instruct on the process of creating of a mural.

Capturing Texas Legends: H. D. Bugbee's Panhandle Frontier

The works of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell have affected more artists of the American West than any others. Texas artist H. D. Bugbee was no exception. Throughout his career Bugbee turned to these masters of the American West for inspiration. Copying old master paintings has been standard practice in academic art training throughout history. Likewise, "borrowing" compositions or even parts of an old master's work, has been encouraged since at least the 18th century. To refer to an old master in your own work helped make it more intellectually stimulating and displayed your own knowledge of art history. This is not to suggest that Bugbee copied his compositions from Remington and Russell. Rather, in pursuing a similar subject, Bugbee, as all artists have done throughout history, and like many illustrators constantly searching for ideas, looked to the recognized masters of a certain genre for ideas and possible solutions to problems. In his library, Bugbee had more books about, by, or illustrated by Russell and Remington than any other artists. He also collected reproductions of their paintings and had three Russell bronzes in his studio. Bugbee probably first saw Remington's paintings reproduced in Collier's Weekly.

From 1903 to 1907, Remington was under contract to Collier's to create one painting per month for reproduction in the magazine. Sadly, in 1907 Remington burned at least 75 of his paintings including many done under the Collier's contract. The Snook Art Company of Billings, Montana, sold numerous Russell reproductions. On a personal level, Bugbee probably emulated Russell more than Remington. In fact, in many ways, Russell's commitment to depicting Western life on the Northern Plains, Bugbee paralleled on the Southern Plains some 25 years later. Similarly, Remington remained dedicated to the American West throughout his career, as did Bugbee. Consequently, the legacy of Russell and Remington clearly passed to H. D. Bugbee as he captured Texas legends.

Those Who Came Before Us: The Indian Murals of H. D. Bugbee

In 1953, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, commissioned its curator of art, H. D. Bugbee (1900-1963), to paint murals of American Indian life for its then-new Indian Hall.  Over the next two years, Bugbee painted thirteen murals that were then installed above exhibit cases holding examples from the Museum's American Indian collection. Seven of the murals depict Southern Plains Indians, while the remainder highlight the Jicarilla Apache, Taos, Navajo, and Hopi tribes.  In 1955, the Museum published a monograph on the Indian Hall cycle, Those Who Came Before Us,with a foreword by J. Evetts Haley and a description of each mural written by Bugbee.

This exhibition Those Who Came Before Us: The Indian Murals of H. D. Bugbee includes the original thirteen Indian Hall murals, plus four Indian dance murals he added to cycle later. Also included in the exhibition are compositional sketches and studies for the murals in oil, watercolor, pencil, and charcoal for the murals Bugbee sketched in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. 

The above exhibition descriptions were provided by Michael Grauer, Curator at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

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Additional March 2005 news from the Museum:

A painting of the Creation by San Antonio artist, Hugo David Pohl (1878-1960), has been installed at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. 

(above: Hugo David Pohl (1878-1960), The First Seven Days)

Pohl began painting The First Seven Days in 1936 and finished the following years.  The seven-panel series includes hand-calligraphed wooden placards explaining each panel, and is encased in Pohl's self-designed and hand-carved frame.  The First Seven Days is lent anonymously by the family of the man who discovered the painting in Pohl's attic long after the artist's death. 

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Pohl studied with Julius T. Melchers, later at the Detroit Institute of Arts with Joseph Gies, and in New York City.  He traveled to Europe to study with Jean Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian in Paris, and in Munich, Amsterdam, and Rome. He opened a Chicago studio in 1908 where he painted murals for International Harvester.(left: photo of the artist in his studio)

In 1918, Pohl built a traveling studio onto his car and toured the West painting American Indians and landscapes in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Pohl lived briefly at San Luis Rey Mission, California, and painted many of California's missions.  In 1924, lured by the missions in San Antonio, Texas, he settled there, building a studio in Brackenridge Park, which he shared with Granville Bruce.  Pohl was active in San Antonio art circles and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum held a memorial exhibition of his work in 1961.  In addition to scenes of the American West, Pohl also painted images of agriculture, Greek mythology, American history, and Christianity.

 "Art museums are often apprehensive to exhibit works of art showing Christian imagery.  However, we leapt at the opportunity to exhibit this beautifully painted and realized interpretation of the Creation," said curator of art Michael R. Grauer.  "Of German descent, Pohl shows the German attention to detail not only in each panel, but also in the calligraphy and carving on the frame," added Grauer.

Publicity photographs of artists in their studios often included what they considered their most important works.  Photographs of Pohl in his studio usually include The First Seven Days, according to Grauer.  "Clearly his work on this painting was a labor of love and a testament to his faith," Grauer acknowledged.  (right: photo of the exterior of the artist's studio)

The First Seven Days will be exhibited for the next six months in the Museum's Graphics Gallery.


rev. 3/29/05

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