Art of the American West
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William Robinson Leigh (American, 1866–1955),
Gathering Water , 1914
oil on canvas board,
Gift of Norman W. Waitt, Jr.,, 2010.1

Born in West Virginia, Leigh settled permanently in New York City, where he worked as an illustrator for Scribner’s. In time, discouraged with his career, he sought a new outlet for his talent. With transportation provided by the Santa Fe Railroad in exchange for commissioned paintings, he made periodic trips west beginning in 1906 to search for new subject matter. Among his favorite western subjects were the Hopi Indians of northeastern Arizona. In this oil sketch, Leigh depicts a Hopi maiden collecting water from a rock cistern, likely at Walpi, the ancient village on First Mesa. The girl’s distinctive "squash-blossom" hairstyle signifies that she is unmarried and ready for courtship.

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