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  • Philip GoodwinSep 16, 1881 - Dec 14, 1935
  • Sam Houston at San Jacinto - Philip R. Goodwin was an American painter and illustrator who specialized in depictions of wildlife, the outdoors, fishing, hunting and the Old American West. He provided illustrations for numerous books and magazines, as well as for commercial items, such as posters, advertisements and calendars. He is perhaps best known for illustrating Jack London's The Call of the Wild and for providing the cover art for many issues of Outdoor Recreation / Outdoor Life Magazine during the 1920s and early 1930s.
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Sam Houston at San Jacinto
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  • Sam Houston at San Jacinto

  • Philip Goodwin
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  • 1907
    Oil on canvas

    Sam Houston waves a saber clenched in fringed gauntlet-wearing hand and a pistol tucked in his waistband. His broad-brimmed planters hat perches on his head as he leads the charge. Interestingly, Houston rides a Mexican vaquero or hacendado-style saddle with a large horn and tapaderos on hi stirrups and wears espuelas grandes on his boots.

    Phillip Russell Goodwin's painting, Sam Houston at San Jacinto, shows far more drama and action than usually found in his work. Better known for his "predicament paintings"-wherein a hunter or outdoorsman is suddenly faced with a split-second decision while facing an unexpected animal (often a bear) blocking his way or the perfect shot appears suddenly-Goodwin's paintings nearly always depict the moment just before the action occurs. In Sam Houston at San Jacinto, the viewer is placed in the action while it occurs, very much in the Howard Pyle school of thought. A line of frontiersman takes the eye into the composition to main figure-albeit in the background-of Sam Houston on one of at least two horses he rode during the battle. His left leg was shattered above the ankle and his first horse killed but he mounted a second to continue fighting during the eighteen-minute battle. Henry Millard led the infantry regiment depicted in the foreground, on the right of the artillery, under George W. Hockley. Goodwin painted the infantrymen as from all stripes, the foremost figure dressed in a Cherokee-style fringed hunting shirt (perhaps a reference to Houston's time among the Cherokees) and wearing beaded moccasins. The Texian man aiming his rifle just in front of Houston may wear a "coonskin cap" a reminder David Crockett and the defenders of the Alamo as these men charged toward Buffalo Bayou. All the Texian army soldiers carry flintlock rifles, powder horns, and shot pouches.

    In good legendary fashion, the Texian troops carry the highly recognizable Lone Star State flag. However, volunteers from Kentucky commanded by Sidney Sherman, called the Newport Rifles Company, carried the only battle flag that day. Called the San Jacinto Battle Flag, the Newport Rifles flag was made of silk and adorned with a painting of Lady Liberty. It is unlikely that Goodwin or the author of the The Lone Star novel, Dallas born Eugene P. Lyle Jr., knew that piece of San Jacinto history.

    Goodwin aligned his Texian troops in a compositional diagonal into the depicted field, leading directly to Houston. Following the admonitions of his mentor Pyle, he also added feeling and emotion to the highly charged action. The fury of the Texians screaming "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember Goliad!" renders to scene raw with emotion on this fateful day in Texas history.

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Philip R. GoodwinPhilip R. Goodwin was a precocious child, painting and drawing from a young age. At age 11, he sold his first illustrated story to Collier's. He studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Art Students League in New York City, the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, as well as under famed illustrator Howard Pyle at the Howard Pyle School. At the age of 22, in 1903, Goodwin illustrated Jack London's Call of the Wild and later Theodore Roosevelt's African Game Trails as well as posters, calendars, and other advertisements. In 1904, he opened a studio in New York, where he created illustrations for Collier's Weekly, Everybody's Magazine, Outdoor Life, and McClure's Magazine, as well as covers for The Saturday Evening Post. He was an avid sportsman and outdoorsman and befriended Charles Russell, N.C. Wyeth, Carl Rungius, Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, and Ernest Seton Thompson. Rungius taught Goodwin an appreciation for hunting in order to become closer to wildlife subjects. Traveling on many sketching expeditions together, Goodwin influenced Russell's painting techniques and use of color.

In the National Museum of Wildlife Art's The Surprise, a photographer is coming upon a mother bear and her two cubs. The painting exemplifies Goodwin's open color palette, use of distance and atmosphere, and sense of humor. He painted many wildlife, hunting, fishing, and western scenes, often composed from behind the subject's shoulder.

Goodwin's work is recognized in many private collections and museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Charles M. Russell Museum, the Thomas Gilcrease Institute, the Brandywine River Museum, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Glenbow Museum, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.