In the early 1800’s, the Rocky Mountain fur trade began in earnest. Trapping expeditions departed Independence, Missouri and headed west in pursuit of beaver pelts used in the manufacture of fashionable hats. Groups typically consisted of 30 to 40 men and each man was outfitted with 2 to 4 horses. The wilds of the prairies and mountains offered an assortment of hazards: grizzly bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, unfriendly Indians and the ever-present threat of catastrophic weather. Each evening, or when the group was not traveling, the horses were penned in makeshift corrals. But as shown in this painting, a violent storm has arrived and the stock has stampeded. In quick pursuit, these mountain men hasten to recover the herd.
I have long admired the work of Frederic Remington. In his exceptional work, Stampeded by Lightning, cowboys are chasing after their cattle herd during a lightning storm. The drama of the stampede… the tenseness of the situation… was the inspiration for my painting, Incident on the Prairie.