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Ledger Drawing of two women racing their painted horses down a Western circuit | Donald Ellis Gallery
A graphite and coloured pencil Ledger Drawing depicting ceremonial regalia | Donald Ellis Gallery

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Coffeen Ledger Book
Northern Plains

ca. 1890-1910


graphite and coloured pencil on lined paper

height: 3 ½"
width: 5 ½"

Inventory # P4256-7

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Herbert Allen Coffeen (March 11, 1869, Bement, IL - August 31, 1916, Pasadena, CA), Sheridan, WY

This drawing by an unidentified Apsáalooke artist depicts two women running their painted horses down a Western circuit. With nothing more than reins and a whip, riders challenge each other on bareback, likely switching between several horses in full gallop in what is now referred to as relay races. The drawings is one of a number of intriguing intercultural scenes found within the pages of what has come to be known as the Coffeen Ledger Book. The drawings are unusual in their singular representation of almost cinematic frames from a classic Western frontier town. Distinctive attention to detail betrays the artist’s keen interest in clothing styles and cultural activities in the context of a shared participatory public life. The Coffeen Ledgers were created on pages of a bank passbook issued by the First National Bank in Sheridan, Wyoming. It is likely that the artist was living on the Crow Indian Reservation just inside the Montana border north of Sheridan. It was a common occurrence that the Apsáalooke (and other nations) frequented towns such as Sheridan to acquire necessary goods and provisions. As settler towns developed into small regional hubs, rodeos and county fairs became popular ways of displaying and strengthening newly forged regional identities. The Apsáalooke are known to have participated extensively in country fairs and stampedes, parading the streets in full regalia, and partaking in activities such as rodeos and racing.