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2007 Walton Ford Born: Larchmont, New York 1960 watercolor and gouache on paper overall: 95 x 132 in. (241.3 x 335.3 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the American Art Forum and Nion T. McEvoy © 2007, Walton Ford 2008.4A-C Not currently on view

Gallery Label

Walton Ford's Tur is an allegory rendered in the style of nineteenth-century naturalists' illustrations. It centers on an aurochs, the huge ancestor of cattle that was hunted on royal Polish preserves until 1627, when the last of the species was killed. In Ford's symbolic painting, the aurochs stands on the edge of a dense forest, and human bones lay before him. These remains allude to the fate of trespassers on the royal lands who, like the aurochs, died at the hands of noblemen who controlled and protected their hunting grounds.

Artwork Description

Walton Ford's large-scale watercolors combine the meticulous detail of naturalist drawings with all the narrative drama of a great film. Tur depicts the aurochs, a prehistoric bull that gave rise to modern day bison and cattle. The Latin inscription at the top left of the painting reads: "The Polish call me tur, the Germans call me aurox, and the ignorant call me bison."

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide. Nashville, TN: Beckon Books, 2015.


Animal - cattle


paint - gouache

paint - watercolor