Thomas Nygard Gallery - 19th and 20th Century American Art



Edgar Samuel

Edgar Samuel Paxson was born in East Hamburgh, New York in 1852. After school he assisted his father in his business as a sign painter and decorator.  Paxson was always fascinated by the frontier life and had a great longing to see the West, so in 1877 he pulled up his roots and moved to the Montana Territory. There he became employed on ranches, learning the tricks of surviving the range's variable weather and occasional Indian conflicts.  Through his rustic journey West, his ranch work, and his experiences as a scout in the Nez Perce war of 1877-1878, Paxson truly lived the "Wild West" that has been portrayed in literature, movies, and television throughout the last century.  His experiences became the inspiration and the subjects for his work, from small sketches in his journal to monumental murals.


Paxson began by simply sketching, for which he had a natural talent.  Without any academic training in the arts, he was able to capture the movement and characteristics of the Western Frontier.  His subject matter typically ranges from Native Americans to historical battles, hunting scenes to early exploration.  Paxson's goal was to immortalize the Old West he knew so intimately.  Because of the rapidly occurring changes in Montana, he felt the necessity to record the West before it became unrecognizable.  His works are nostalgic, romantic, and sentimental yet hold historical importance within late 19th and early 20th century fine art.


"Custer's Last Battle On The Little Big Horn" won Paxson immediate recognition.  The painting measures six by ten feet and took him over seven years to complete.  His works are held by the Whitney Gallery of Western Art,  Missoula County Courthouse,  Montana State Capitol building, the University of Montana and the Anschutz Collection.

(1852 - 1919)

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133 East Main Street

Bozeman, Montana 59715

 phone: 406.586.3636