Artwork Information

  • Title:

    Hurd House Frieze (The Santa Fe Trail)

  • Artist:

    Ufer, Walter

  • Artist Bio:

    American, 1876–1936

  • Date:


  • Medium:

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions:

    14 3/4 x 91 7/8 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Mr. L.R. Hurd

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Walter Ufer

American, 1876–1936

Hurd House Frieze (The Santa Fe Trail), 1924

Oil on canvas

Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Mr. L.R. Hurd


(Walter Ufer DESCRIPTION OF FRIEZE continued from 1945.1.4)


It was my ambition to show in this work various weathers that occur in a single day in this country, and therefore, I depicted decoratively, a cloudburst. This motive was one that I saw at the time, a few years past when the City of Pueblo, Colorado, was nearly washed off the earth and we in Taos got a remnant of the storm at that time. I show what we call the foothills covered with small pinion, some spruce and pine. I show the exit of Taos Canyon behind the adobe village of Taos and this was actually the Santa Fe Trail. In this manner the people of the East travelled through Kansas, part of Colorado, into the state of New Mexico, or at that time the territory of New Mexico, and entered this territory through Raton. Then over Cimarron, Ute Park, Eagle Nest Dam, Palo Phlachado Pass into Taos Canyon, and then Taos and south from there to Santa Fe, Chihuahua, and Mexico City. I show a train of freighters and as such a train was tremendously long, in this small space I could not fully show its dimension, and only used it in symbol, showing four wagons and spans. As we know, in those days worker and passenger walked along the train. I show one woman in a quaint and early costume with a newborn, as it took ninety days in the best of weather to drive and walk from Independence, Missouri, to Taos. The buckskin figure in the foreground is the leader or owner of this freight train, lifting his hat at the sight of his destination. I give workers and passengers alike, rifles in their hands instead of dragoon pistols which they actually used, as you cannot see at any distance, the small form of a pistol and I wanted to make it as dramatic as possible, so I gave them rifles. The road leads through a field of sage. I have depicted one Indian in Taos costume, another Indian in the Apache costume walking along beside the teams. I have worked my horses so that they give a slow by steady forward motion.