“Riding Through the Night”

Beatien Yazz


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One of the most celebrated and highly collected Native artists of the mid-twentieth century, Beatien Yazz was basically self-taught, and a Marine Code-Talker in World War II, before starting to paint seriously, after the war.

Jimmy Toddy was his Anglicized name; his lifespan was from 1928-2012.

His subject matter related to daily life on the Navajo reservation, and his paintings provide cultural records of his time.

This large painting depicts a Navajo cowboy (yes, there are still lots of them) enjoying a ride on his piebald horse, under a full moon.

Tufts of desert plants are at the forefront, the only static elements besides the moon.

There is virtually no shading, but the many, many details are so carefully and skillfully drawn that the sense of speed is obvious.

The saddle blanket waves in the wind, the horse’s head and ears are flattened, his mane and tail stream out, and three hooves are off the ground, as he races across the high desert.

Meticulous detail also depicts the cowboy’s hat, hands, concho belt, turquoise earring, moccasin, and his seat in the western-style saddle.

The horse’s bridle is decorated with silver, and every bit of his muzzle, and hooves, is scrupulously realistic.

The artist’s choice of a soft blue for the background resembles a full moon’s bright light.

Seemingly simple, at first glance, this painting is actually full of cultural detail, as well as a wonderful evocation of a carefree ride, across the wide spaces of the Navajo land.

We are delighted to find this fine painting, created by this iconic artist in 1979, in our inventory. Now you can enjoy it, too.

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