T00285 MASSACRE IN THE CANYON OF DEATH: VISION OF THE SUN GOD 1958
Inscr. ‘D. E. Brett 1958’ b.l.
Oil and spangles on hardboard, 34 3/4×26 3/4 (88·5×68).
Presented by the artist 1959.
Exh: Oakes Purchase Prize Exhibition, Stables Gallery, Taos, 1958, and elsewhere in Texas and New Mexico.
The name Canyon del Muerte (Canyon of Death) was given to a side branch of the Canyon of Chelly after a massacre had taken place there during the Spanish Conquest. The artist wrote (17 September 1959): ‘The Navajo men before leaving for a hunting expedition placed their women and children in a high cave on the side of the towering cliff.... Soon after they left the Spanish soldiers rode through the Canyon. An old woman ... jeered and spat, thus giving away their hiding place. The soldiers then climbed up the opposite side of the Canyon and fired into the cave until all the women and children were killed. My painting shows the dying women seeing a vision of the Sun God as they die.’
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I