Charging the Challenger
A featured work in the recent Scottsdale Art Auction, this painting of a Northern Plains warrior and his dappled reflection charging across a disputed creek sold for over twice its estimated value. McCarthy’s work was always imbued with a high sense of drama. The characters in each painting nearly leap off the canvas, earning him the undisputed title of “the Dean of Western Action.”
He carries a fur wrapped spear and his shield, which carries his “big medicine,” his protection. He wears a buffalo headdress with bead work and a bone and shell necklace. Lance in hand, he confronts an adversary, who remains unseen by the viewer. The circles of red around the horse’s eyes are painted there to help the horse see better and the stripes on the horse’s nose are coup marks. In battle, or on the hunt, a strong and fast horse was often the difference between life and death.