“A Real Indian Painter Paints Indian Life”

Lone Wolf; Buffalo Hunt; 1930; bronze; 15 1/2 x 23 in. (39.4 x 58.4 cm); Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, gift of the Western Art Associates

Lone Wolf (Hart M. Schultz), Buffalo Hunt, 1930, bronze; on loan from the Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of the Western Art Associates.

Lone Wolf (aka Hart M. Schultz; 1883-1970) bridged the diverse cultures of the Old and New West through his compelling life and career as an artist. His experiences as the son of a Blackfeet Indian mother and the prolific western book writer James Willard Schultz allowed him to interpret the West through both Native and Anglo eyes.

As one of the first American Indian artists to paint in an academic style, Schultz combined his technical abilities and personal knowledge of his tribe to influence the ways in which Native life was depicted in his own artwork and other art of the time.

As Schultz’s career ascended, the art worlds in Chicago and New York came to appreciate the authenticity in his work. It was known that Schultz’s depictions of American Indian history, regalia and life reflected his intimate, first-hand knowledge of Native culture. The Evening Telegram in New York referenced the artist’s reliable accuracy in an article entitled, “A Real Indian Painter Paints Indian Life.”

Lone Wolf; Buffalo Hunt, 3/4, viewer right; 1930; bronze; 15 1/2 x 23 in. (39.4 x 58.4 cm); Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, gift of the Western Art Associates

Lone Wolf (Hart M. Schultz), Buffalo Hunt, 1930, bronze; on loan from the Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of the Western Art Associates.

On one occasion – while his artwork was on exhibit in a New York gallery known for displaying the works of renowned western painters – Schultz studied under an Italian sculptor who asked for his input on a 9-foot statue of an American Indian.

Schultz recalled in an interview, “he had it finished and he said, come take a look at it, he said what do you think about it? I said the figure is fine, but your regalia is wrong. I said that pipe that man’s got in his hand is a Chinese pipe. Indians didn’t have pipes like that… and I took my moccasins out and showed him those. He changed it, and he used the pipe that I gave him for a model, and the moccasins. So he got $30,000 for it, and he taught me free for helping him.”

Schultz’s unique perspective is also seen in his bronze Buffalo Hunt, where he portrays an American Indian hunter armed with arrows and approaching the right side of the game. Schultz explained during an interview at his studio in New York: “When the Indians were running buffalo with the bow and arrow they always rode on the right-hand side of the game. The arrow was aimed behind the shoulder or between the ribs and the hipbone where there are no bones, thus giving the arrow the chance to penetrate the lungs. A small bow was always used in hunting. The quiver containing the arrows was slung on the left-hand side, the knife worn on the right.”

This artwork and many others can be seen in the museum’s exhibition, Lone Wolf (Hart M. Schultz): Cowboy, Actor & Artist (on display June 21, 2016 – Aug. 31, 2016).

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