Texas State Capitol

112 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-0063

Ranger Escort West of the Pecos, 1965 Oil on canvas, 36" x 52" © James D. Lea

Ranger Escort West of the Pecos, 1965 Oil on canvas, 36" x 52" © James D. Lea

The state capitol is the permanent location of Ranger Escort West of the Pecos, 1965. This painting was a gift from C. R. Smith, Chairman of the Board of American Air Lines to the State of Texas.

“One of the treasured books I had taken from my father’s den after his death in 1945 was Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875 to 1881 by James B. Gillett, Ex-Sergeant Company ‘A’, Frontier Battalion. A bold old-fashioned hand had inscribed the front flyleaf. ‘To My Friend Tom Lea with sincere good wishes, J. B. Gillett Dec. 25th 1921.’ Rereading it, the book spoke to me almost as if the old ranger and my father both were present in my studio. On page 49 I came to the words, ‘Oh, how I wish I had the power to describe the wonderful country as I saw it then. How happy I am now in my old age that I am a native Texan and saw the grand frontier before it was marred by the hand of man.’

Fifteen years afterwards I would be carrying those words in my mind yet, and coming back to them, composing a horseback portrait of Sergeant Jim Gillett riding into the wonderful country as he saw it then.” (A Picture Gallery, Brown and Company, 1968, pp. 117-118).

The Blanton Museum

200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
(512) 471-7324.

The Lead Steer, 1941 © James D. Lea

This museum located on the U.T. Austin Campus features three of Tom’s works; The Lead Steer, 1941, The Year it Rained, 1975, and the study for Stampede, 1940. These three works are not always on display.

In preparing to illustrate J.Frank Dobie’s book The Longhorns in 1940, Tom Lea joined Dobie “on a prowl to see Longhorns….” He wrote about the experience:

I never had a better time. We looked at brush country of the brushiest kind. We found Longhorns; I think we saw most of the surviving examples of the unimproved old Texan breed. There were not many. At night we made camp alongside cowtracks on grassy ground. Sometimes we were guests at a ranch house. We went horseback with our hosts into far pastures, into thorny jungles of lacy-leafed mesquite.

The trip took us on a wide loop past Carrizo Springs to the Chupadero Ranch, down the old river road through Laredo and beyond to the San Antonio Viejo and El Randado in Jim Hogg Country, through Hebbronville and Falfurrias to the Kenedy headquarters, to the King Ranch, to the old Dobie property in Live Oak County where Frank had spent his youth and where we camped under a grandfather oak on Lagarto Creek. We headed north through Austin, through a steer pasture near Fort Worth, and father north to a Red River crossing where trail herds and their drivers once swam the muddy water into old Indian territory. North of Cache, Oklahoma, we entered the reservation of the Wichita Wildlife Refuge where the Federal government maintained, in addition to the native protected wild fauna, a breed herd and some mighty steers of the Longhorn blood. We camped there by a spring at the foot of a knoll. From the coming up until the going down of the summer sun we watched the cattle, the shine of light on the stately horns, the play of muscle and sinew under hide and hair of so many reds, browns, blacks, duns roans, motleys, brindles…We escaped from our time, we lived a hundred years ago… (Tom Lea, A Picture Gallery, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1968, pps 36-37)

From that trip came Tom Lea’s study for Stampede and the subsequent mural in the Odessa Post Office. Also from that trip came his illustrations for J. Frank Dobie’s book and The Lead Steer, purchased by C.R. Smith – the first President of American Airlines - who was a great collector of western art.

The art museum of The University of Texas at Austin was created from an unexpected land gift from Archer M. Huntington in 1927. The gallery space, formally named the University Art Museum and housed in the new building for the university art department, opened in 1963. The museum’s permanent collection expanded between the 1960s and 1980s through important acquisitions and generous gifts from donors such as C. R. Smith. In 1972 the permanent collection moved to a larger gallery space in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and in 1980, the University Art Museum was renamed the Archer M. Huntington Gallery. The museum’s still-expanding permanent collection prompted the gifts that renamed the museum the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art and allowed for groundbreaking for the current museum complex to begin in 2003.

Harry Ransom Center

21st, Austin, TX 78712
(512) 471-8944.

The Sarah and Tom Lea art collection consists of the artist's personal art works, including book illustrations, paintings, drawings, and lithographs. The subjects include Texana art, landscapes, portraits, bullfighting scenes, WWII images, and illustrations for books by Lea, such as The Wonderful Country, The Brave Bulls, and The Primal Yoke, and illustrations for books by J. Frank Dobie.

The collection includes over 200 works completed while Lea attended the Art Institute of Chicago and later while living in Santa Fe. The items include pencil sketches, charcoal, ink, blue pencil, sketches of models and designs for murals and advertising art, Native-American design motifs, linoleum block prints from New Mexico, and one etching. Other art works by Tom Lea can be found in the J. Frank Dobie Art Collection.

The Tom Lea papers (in the Center's manuscript collection) consist of typescript and holograph manuscripts, printed books and pamphlets, photographs, galleys, page proofs, pasteups, mockups, layouts, drawings, transparencies, dust jackets, postcards, correspondence, printed advertisements, invitations, clippings, newspapers, programs, tickets, and a menu.

The Tom Lea photography collection (in the Center's photography collection) includes images of Lea, his wife, other family members, and friends. There are also photographic reproductions of some of his paintings and images associated with the movie production of his book The Brave Bulls, as well as a series of photographs by Lea of the Peleliu landing.

Texas State Cemetery

909 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702
(512) 463-0605.

The Tom Lea cenotaph in the Texas State Cemetery was designed by Jud Burgess/Substance of El Paso and dedicated in 2005. The front view of Tom Lea’s cenotaph reveals a striking bronze sculpture that is set solid on the base and appears to be embedded in the polished mahogany granite slab. The bronze was modeled after an actual Lea illustration depicting the south end of the Franklin Mountains with the east and west sides in view. To the right is a quotation by Tom Lea, often quoted by President George W. Bush, about living on the east side of the mountain. The reverse side of the cenotaph enumerates highlights of Lea’s prolific career.

The Texas State Cemetery is the final resting place of thousands of honored Texans from elected officials to cultural luminaries. Governors, judges, authors, artists and Republic of Texas heroes are buried within 18 acres of carefully landscaped state land just a mile east of the Capitol. The Cemetery was founded in 1851 upon the death of Edward Burleson, San Jacinto veteran and Vice President of the Republic of Texas.

Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congess Avenue, Austin, Texas
(512) 936-8746

The museum's stunning rotunda has quotes from famous Texans on Texas, including Tom Lea. It's richness is in space. Wide and deep and infinitely colored.....