Sparrow Hawk (1912) by Maynard Dixon


Captured in mid-stride with her dark shawl blowing behind her, a seemingly distressed woman runs toward the foreground of the composition, away from an exasperated man in the background. The dark attire and left lean of the female figure, in juxtaposition to the male figure leaning to the right, who is painted in such similar tones to the valleys and hills of the desert setting that he is nearly lost in background, create a well-balanced tonal composition.
Seeking inspiration in the the desert town of Mojave at the foot of the Tehachapi Mountains, Dixon has skillfully depicted a sense of movement, light, and emotion in this gouache painting. A sparing use of paint and subdued colour palette combined with his powerful command of light and shadow are quintessential of Dixon's Western themed works of the early 20th century.

In the early 20th century, Sunset Magazine engaged Dixon, offering assignments that included a cover for the April 1912 issue, as well as illustrations for several articles, including Dane Coolidge's "Sparrow Hawk", for the September 1912 issue, and for which this painting was created. Signed "Maynard Dixon 1912" in lower left corner.

A largely self-taught artist, Dixon was an American landscape painter famous for his portraits of the desolate deserts of the American southwest. Reverse of painting titled "Sparrow Hawk Sunset Mag". A small field sketch, a seated woman with a man approaching on horseback, is also found on the reverse of the painting.

Dimensions: 21 x 14.5 in.