CORCORAN AND CODY: THE TWO VERSIONS OF THE LAST OF THE BUFFALO
DARE MYERS HARTWELL, & HELEN MAR PARKIN
ABSTRACT—Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) painted two versions of The Last of the Buffalo: a large one in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and a somewhat smaller version in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. The two paintings are similar but not identical in construction, palette, and design. In the Cody painting, the same compositional elements are smaller, and the internal space is compressed. Both paintings contain many of the same design changes and pentimenti, indicating that one is not a copy of the other. The authors use contemporaneous evidence to formulate a hypothesis as to why, and in what order, Bierstadt painted the two versions. Cross sections reveal a graphite-containing layer between the canvas and the ground in the Cody painting, tying this painting to others painted in the 1880s. Surface texture and condition of both paintings are discussed in relation to materials used and previous treatments. Finally, the retexturing and inpainting of a large, compositionally important area in the Cody painting are discussed in detail.
3. RELATIONSHIP OF THE TWO PAINTINGS
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