In the foreword to this book, Sarah Hunt, director of the museum, tells the story of the Anschutz Collection’s transition from a closely held treasure to an educational and esthetic resource for Denver and western art enthusiasts everywhere. In the book’s introductory essay, distinguished scholar and curator John Wilmerding provides cultural and literary context for the museum’s holdings, which include exemplary works by virtually every significant painter of the American West from the 1820s through the mid-twentieth century. Historical essays by acclaimed historian James P. Ronda introduce the six chapters of the book, setting the stage for in-depth examinations of individual masterworks by Joan Carpenter Troccoli.
Scholars have brought new insight to western American art in the past decade, and the European view of the westering experience as a defining characteristic of American history and culture is beginning to take hold among art historians on this side of the Atlantic. Western American art is shedding its outsider status and assuming its rightful place as an integral component of the history of American art—and American life. The 150 masterful images from over a century of painting that are showcased in this book expand our understanding of the place of the American West in the story of humankind.