Hard times in the American West

Visions of the American West

CHAPTER 4: Hard times in the American West


It’s no secret that life on the frontier in the early- and mid-nineteenth century was difficult. Landscapes transformed, families dispersed, and loved ones were lost. While William Gilbert Gaul’s The Land of the Free places such suffering at center stage, other works—like Worthington Whittredge’s Buffalo on the Platte River, takes a subtler tack, gently hinting at the looming threat of westward expansion. Luis Jiménez’s Border Crossing brings similar themes into the twentieth century, as the elegiac sculpture speaks to the challenges of modern immigration.

Image credit:
William Gilbert Gaul
The Land of the Free, circa 1900 (detail)
Oil on canvas
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Gift of C.R. Smith, 1976

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