William H. Beard. “On The Prairie.” From Gallery of Landscape Painters—American Scenery. New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1872. Steel engraving by Robert Hinshelwood. 8 3/4 x 12 5/8. Very good condition.
William Holbrook Beard traveled from Atchison to Denver in the summer of 1866, crossing the high plains when it was still relatively undeveloped. A Denver paper mentioned that Beard spent the summer of 1866 having “painted so vividly most of our exquisite mountain scenery…” This image shows those mountains, featuring Pike’s Peak, from the vantage of the high plains of Colorado. Beard mentions that on his trip “I only saw a few Buffalo on the plains but enough to study them, and ascertain that they are not very available for pictures.” The mountains were better sitters for drawing, so Beard almost certainly based his painting on a drawing of the Rockies with the buffalo drawn in from the studies he was able to make. Beard further remarked that “I saw splendid effects of light and shade—storms, etc…” and this painting shows such a storm and the sun dramatically breaking through the clouds. A wonderful and characteristic (though the buffalo are even less available now) view of eastern Colorado.