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Prospectors Among the Blackfeet

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A New York Times article on Western art and the annual Coeur d’Alene Art Auction in 2007 had this to say about the artist: Howard Terpning just may be the most successful living American artist you’ve never heard of. The auctioneer Peter Stremmel concurred. Everyone is after Terpning’s work. They see him as the next Russell or Remington, (referring to Charles Russell and Frederic Remington, the two most famous Western art painters from the end of the 19th century). Several of Terpning’s paintings had already broken the million dollar mark and his record sale price has climbed since to $1,456,000. Additionally, it’s getting harder to find a serious art collector who doesn’t recognize his name.

In ‘Prospectors Among the Blackfeet,’ Blackfeet warriors find evidence of intrusion by white men: a prospector’s gold pan and other debris carelessly left behind in a shallow stream, says the artist. The Blackfeet were among the most implacable in their enmity toward white trespassers, first the beaver trappers and later the prospectors. And for good reason. Blackfeet had only to look at their neighbors, the Sioux and Cheyenne, where the discovery of gold in the treaty-protected Black Hills led to the final, crushing military campaigns against them.

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