The paintings on these pages, by untutored and often itinerant artists of an earlier day in our country's history, form a part of the priceless heritage we know as American "primitives." Unknown and all but lost in countless dusty attics, these gems might have vanished into oblivion had it not been for the perception and good judgment of Colonel and Mrs. Edgar William Garbisch, a philanthropic couple who, to the benefit of their grateful fellow men, made the collecting of these paintings a principal aim in life.
Bernice and Edgar Garbisch first embarked on their search for American primitives in 1944 when they chose to furnish their new home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with American antiques. As connoisseurs of art, and with an active interest in the preservation of historic monuments in this country, they soon become aware of the danger that America's early arts might be lost to posterity. They also quickly realized there were many more of these paintings to be had than they could use in their home. From that awareness grew the collection that now numbers about 2,000 pieces. "We saw in these native American works of art," the Garbisches explain, "those unique qualities of simplicity, forthright directness and creative vitality in color and design which set them apart as being so indigenous to our country, so genuinely American."
The Garbisches have given 180 pieces outright to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and have loaned many more. It is from that extraordinary collection, on view for all to see in two galleries at the museum, that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has chosen these four fall hunting scenes of great charm and worth.
The period covered in the collection dates from the early 18th century to past the middle of the 19th century. Chosen for their creative imagination and skill, the pictures are a magnificent record of the modes and manners of our early forefathers—American genre.
Fox hunting was popular with 18th century Americans, who also loved to commission paintings of themselves and their activities. The Start of the Hunt, circa 1780, is a good example of both interests.
Coon hunting was (and is) a sport typically and peculiarly American. Here, while two men sit on a log, two others make their way through the shadowy woods to where the dogs have treed their prey.
COLONEL AND MRS. EDGAR WILLIAM GARBISCH
Fine arts and sports are shared interests of Colonel Garbisch and his attractive wife, the former Bernice Chrysler. A football star at West Point, he was on Walter Camp's famous 1924 All-America team.
"THE DEER HUNT," BY AN UNKNOWN ARTIST, WAS PAINTED ABOUT 1750
"THE END OF THE HUNT" DEPICTS WITH HUMOR AND NOSTALGIA THE RETURN OF RIDERS AND HOUNDS AFTER A HAPPY DAY IN THE AUTUMN COUNTRYSIDE