Known to his friends as "Buck," Dunton traveled extensively in the West as a young man, working as a ranch hand and cowboy. When he became a commerical illustrator, Dunton used this experience to authenticate details in sketches commissioned by such periodicals as Harper's, Collier's, and Scribner's. A desire to study painting more seriously brought him in 1912 to the Art Students League, where his teacher, Ernest Blumenschein suggested a visit to Taos. Dunton responded immediately to the pictorial richness of New Mexico, finding his favorite subjects in the wildlife and rugged mountain men of the region. During the Depression, suffering financially and, increasingly, from poor health, Dunton worked on the Public Works of Art Project murals and practiced lithography. His concern for preserving the vanishing spirit of the Old West exceeded that of all his artist colleagues in Taos.
Dunton, W. Herbert. Papers. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Broder. Taos: A Painter's Dream, pp. 162–79.
Schimmel, Julie. The Art and Life of W. Herbert Dunton, 1878–1936. Austin: University of Texas Press and Stark Museum of Art, 1984.
Charles Eldredge, Julie Schimmel, and William H. Truettner Art in New Mexico, 1900–1945: Paths to Taos and Santa Fe (Washington, DC: National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1986)