One of the most highly collected and beloved painters of the old style, the artist was also known by his Anglo name, Jimmy Toddy.
He was one of the celebrated Navajo Code Talkers, serving in the Marines, in WWII.
Upon his return, he began to paint seriously, and his fame blossomed.
He mostly painted vignettes of Navajo life, or animals that were familiar to him. These are beloved by collectors.
This painting is quite unique. As far as we know, this is the only work of the artist’s that shows an Indian aiming at an Anglo.
Although presented in historic terms – the white man is a 19th-century cavalry soldier – the subject was evidently meaningful to him.
The unique subject matter makes this painting even more collectible than the artist’s more usual work.
It is painted in the artist’s recognizable style, combining naturalistic, detailed depictions of animals and human figures with abstractly suggested background.
The mix of beautifully rendered, boldly solid forms and details, along with the softer-hued and delicately limned background features, creates a dynamic composition.
The viewer’s eye moves from foreground to the background figure, following the intent focus of the Indian with his gun, and the posture of the horse – looking in the same direction, with even mane and tail blowing toward the faraway horseman. (As a Navajo, the artist knows his horses.)
Yazz’s draftsmanship is impeccable; every figure, man or horse, is accurately and realistically portrayed, with loving, and lovely, detail.
The composition is balanced and serves the subject matter wonderfully well.
The red cliffs of the Navajo country, and the ledge which hides the Native figure and horse, are merely suggested, but with such confident lines that the viewer’s eye fills in the rest.
This is a major work by this celebrated artist, and one that may well be truly one-of-a-kind.
It surely will be enjoyed, not only as a work of art, but as a collector’s prize.