Juan Menchaca (1910-1989)
Peace on the Range — Bison
Signed and dated lower right “Juan Menchaca/1970,” and titled verso
Oil on canvas
Gilt frame with linen liner
18 x 24 inches
24 x 29.75 inches, framed
Western landscape showing several bison grazing on a grassy plain, two low hills in the distance. It is executed in a realist style, typical of traditional American paintings of this popular subject.
Juan Menchaca was born in raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and attended the Texas School of Fine Arts. He continued his studies in Denver, Colorado, under the portrait painter Robert Graham. In 1936, he found a job through the Works Progress Administration painting portraits of figures from Colorado history for the State Museum in Denver, and soon became part of the team of artists painting backgrounds and producing three-dimension figures and other elements for the museum’s dioramas. During World War II, he applied his skills to illustrating manuals and making models used for military training. In the 1950s, he returned to creating museum dioramas on Western history, and was still working in that field in 1964, when he was interviewed for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art’s New Deal and the Arts oral history project. Menchaca is profiled in the book Coyotes and Canaries: Characters Who Made the West Wild and Wonderful! (2002) by Larry Brown.
Condition: Generally fine with only minor overall toning and wear.
Loomis, Sylvia. “Interview with Juan Menchaca.” 13 November 1964. Online at Smithsonian Archives of American Art. 30 August 2004. https://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-juan-menchaca-13550< (16 February 2021).