Update: this painting was successfully sold at Bonhams to a seasoned Hulings collector! Sending our congratulations for the wonderful addition to his collection.
“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
This 1976 Mississippi painting features two men, each with their own horse; a young man almost camouflaged by the post on the porch, and a little boy. It’s all texture: the dappled gray of the sky blends into a wavy line of background trees, leaving the bold colors to the foreground. There’s a strong connection in the diagonal line between the two men who are speaking together; both are wearing blue—that blue also shows up again in the Hulings signature on the lower left. The boy’s bright yellow shirt blends with the wildflowers and dry grass, which are painted in a more abstract way with paint splatters.
Hard Work in the Magnolia State
The strong architectural feature in the work is the cabin itself. It’s almost centered in the frame, which makes it solid and grounded. Hulings has given us some non-literal color choices in the play of pinks and teal on the right side of the cabin, giving this small, weathered building its own glow. The open door shows an unlit, somewhat mysterious interior. It looks as if everyone has been working, and that stopping by the cabin is a chance to regroup and water the horses. A snapshot of hardworking people going about their daily business in partnership with their animals is signature Hulings subject matter—although here, we’re seeing horses rather than donkeys, and we don’t have too many other examples of his work in Mississippi, because many of his classic Southern pieces are set in Louisiana.
This painting was created in an exciting time in Hulings’ career. By the mid-1970s, he had become well-established as an award-wining easel painter, and 1976 was also the year of his Gold Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American Art by National Cowboy Hall of Fame, which included a one-man show of 35 paintings.
Auction at Bonhams
If this painting has caught your eye, you’re in luck. It will be auctioned by Bonhams San Francisco on February 8th. If you’d like to be in touch with the auction, send us a note and we’ll make an introduction.