National Geographic : 1962 Sep
COLLECTIONOF EDGARWILLIAM AND BERNICECHRYSLERGARBISCH © NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY "Neigh of an Iron Horse" stampedes the real animal ANEWFANGLED monster sends a shrill whistle across the countryside, spook ing a pastured horse, which looks over its shoulder in terror. Flying mane and tail eloquently express the speed of flight and point frightened strands toward the source of imagined danger. This 1859 painting, by A. Tapy, probably was made for the artist's own amusement as the record of a phenomenon he had observed in the countryside. Evidently he knew his subject well; he may have been a wagoner or blacksmith. The anatomy of a horse in motion has presented problems to artists since time immemorial. Here the primitive painter, 388 probably with little except firsthand observation to guide him, has produced an original and forceful image. He has been equally observant of the train. Students of engineering easily recognize the locomotive as an eight-wheel wood-burner of the early 1850's. The artist's scrupulous observation has not ended here; the plants could almost serve as illustrations in a botany book. Primitive artists usually were precise about details. Occasionally, as here, they combined precision with vivid imagination and instinctive talent for design. American collectors, beginning during the 1930's, realized that primitive paintings gave penetrating insight into the ideals, temper, history, and changing pattern of American civilization. Long overlooked by connoisseurs of fine art, the paintings now find their way into collections, where they win increasing approbation by the public.