Holland The Artist Of American Legends
Stephen Holland Paints John Wayne
Before Clint Eastwood curled his upper lip, Kirk Douglas squinted into the noon sun, or Henry Fonda stared down a six shooter, there was the one true cowboy of the big screen. Every genre has it's one defining hero that set the archetype, and no matter how many follow in their footsteps, none will fill the boots that made them. In the case of the great American Western, that can only be John Wayne.
Stephen Holland's celebrated career has been defined by his remarkable ability to capture the fundamental essence of iconoclasts like Wayne in a single portrait. But beyond this, what really has defined Holland's unmatched talents, is his ability to present our hero's in the same ways we romantically picture them in our collective memories.
Holland knew that this painting in particular would end up being a stand out, as he chose to use the inspiration of one of his favorite John Wayne movies. But little did he know how much this was going to drive his artistic passion, until he dove deeper.
The film turned out to be based on the very real story of a young frontier girl in Texas who was kidnapped by the Comanche Indian tribe. Her uncle (who would be played by John Wayne a century later) along with a posse set out to find her. This search went on for well over two decades. And by the time they found her, she was thirty four, had married the tribes chief and had mothered three children. Their son Quanah Parker, later grew up to be the fiercest and last of the Comanche war chiefs, and eventually their legendary leader in peace.
Holland embraced this true and amazing tail, behind the movie. He used it as a driving force in this work. He even included an actual portrait of Chief Quanah Parker in the background.
Another fantastic feature that distinguishes the special work is the horse John Wayne is riding. Amongst the many subjects that Holland has become distinguished for painting, horses are a very significant one. Holland has often been commissioned in the past purely for his special talent for painting these wonderful animals. Including the portrait of a Kentucky Derby winner. But this is the first work he has produced that incorporate a great example of both his painting of horses and celebrities.
Each piece in the series is a unique and individual work, that has been hand worked by the artist himself.
Danny (don't call me Marion) Stern