The Rivers’ Gift
Opportunity and misfortune often traveled hand in hand in the Old West as Howard Terpning’s The River’s Gift so dramatically displays. Where are the pioneers who came west with this wagon? What were their dreams and desires? Did they reach the end of their trail forsaken and forlorn, like the shattered wood of the wagon?
Yet for these two Cheyenne, their find represents good fortune. They will strip the iron rims to make spear points and arrowheads. The spokes and the other wood will also prove to be useful. Perhaps, along the river’s bottom and edge, more bounty can be found.
The River’s Gift is not only masterful storytelling, it is masterfully designed and rendered as well. The massive wall of rock behind the Cheyenne keeps the eye from drifting off into the distance. The angle of the riders and the gap in the wall serve to drive your attention down to the river. Each rock is strategically placed to draw your eye to the broken wagon, which in turn directs you once again to the Cheyenne.