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1916, Eyes

1919, Shepherd
1924, Man
1924, Mine
1925, Son Father 
1925. Brian K
1926, Barb W
1928, Shepherd
(1928, Lights)
1930, Eyes
1935, When Man
1936,  Matthews
1936, The Mine
1936, Wild Brian
1937, West  Gold
1937, Out West
1937, Secret Vly
1937, Californian
1941, Shepherd
1949, Massacre
1959, Shep (TV)
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Paintings


I have included paintings by Harold Bell Wright in the collectibles section of the menu column, but you should not expect to find a large collection of his paintings, or even to see one, outside a museum. There never were very many.

Wright was a painter for a few years before he was a preacher. While he pastored, he continued to paint pictures as well as to write. In 1907 he left the ministry, moved to the Imperial Valley, and devoted his full attention to writing and painting. Wright concluded that to be successful at one of these two efforts he would have to give up the other. But he loved both. After the enormous success of The Calling of Dan Matthews in 1909, he decided to put painting behind him forever. A local paper in El Centro reported that in a large bonfire he burned the paintings still in his possession, along with his pallets, brushes, paints, easels, sketch books, etc. In later years he did some painting for his own relaxation, but never again pursued it seriously.

If you have any photos of additional paintings, I will be happy to add them to this site for other Harold Bell Wright fans to enjoy.

I have put the painting in two groups, those that are verified as being by Harold Bell Wright, and those that may or may not be. Sometimes Wright signed his paintings, sometimes he attached to the back of the frame a fragile little tag with his name on it, very often he did not put his name anywhere. So the only paintings we can be reasonably certain were painted by Wright are those that stayed with the family, those that actually include his signature, and those that were published. Wright enjoyed giving paintings to friends and church members in the towns where he served as pastor.

Click to Enlarge

1. "The Old Trail." This is the painting from which the Book Supply Company postcard was made in 1911 or 1912. Photographed in the Harold Bell Wright museum in the 1980s. Copyright Harold Bell Wright Estate. Sometime in the 1980s, Norman found this painting sitting on the floor in a bookshop. He bought it and placed it in the Harold Bell Wright Museum in Branson, with the following note: "I [HBW] painted the picture on the easel as a present for my publisher Elsbery Reynolds. He had postcards made to give to book sellers.....The painting was discovered in an old used book shop in California. How it made its way west through some seventy years is not known. It was cleaned and restored by experts of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Huntington Library of Pasadena and now takes it rightful place in my museum." [It seems reasonable to assume Reynolds took it with him when he moved to Pasadena in the 1920s.]
2. Unnamed variation of The Old Trail? This painting, in the old Harold Bell Wright museum at Mutton Hollow in the 1980's, has no name, but appears to be a variation of The Old Trail. Copyright Harold Bell Wright Estate.
3. Painting of river and mountain by Harold Bell Wright. Appears to have a title on brass plate on frame, but I do not know what it says. Photographed in Harold Bell Wright museum in 1980s. Copyright Harold Bell Wright Estate.
4. Unnamed flower painting by Harold Bell Wright. No title on painting, but inscribed to his wife in lower right corner: "To Winifred P. Wright from Bungy. 1939." Photographed in Harold Bell Wright museum in 1980s. Copyright Harold Bell Wright Estate. [Bungy was one of Harold Bell Wright's nicknames]
4b. Inscription on flower painting by Harold Bell Wright: "To Winifred P. Wright from Bungy. 1939."
5. Unnamed painting of pond, by Harold Bell Wright. Photographed in Harold Bell Wright museum in 1980s. Copyright Harold Bell Wright Estate.
6. B. Unnamed oil painting signed by Harold Bell Wright and dated 1907. Approximately 13 x 19 inches and framed. Owned by Ralph and Joanne Jenney (southern California). Joanne comments: "It has been in the family for many years. My grandmother's great aunt was a good friend and member of his church in Lebanon, MO. It was given to her by him." The signature and date, visible in the lower enlargement, are in the lower right corner of the painting.
  The following paintings come with stories that seem reasonable, but their authenticity may never be verified.
A. Painting of elk. Unsigned and unnamed. Courtesy of William Chancellor, who wrote in 2005: "My mother was raised in Lebanon, Mo. by a Mr. and Mrs. S. F. Lumm. He was a banker there in the first part of the 1900s. They knew Mr. Wright and I have a painting that he gave to them. It is not signed. They gave it to my mother in the early 1940s and she gave it to me probably 30 years ago. It is a painting of the head of a deer or elk. I had it put in a frame about 30 years ago because it was beginning to deteriorate.
B. Painting of Mother and Child. This painting is owned by James French, from Florida. Mr. French says his first wife's mother, Mrs. Alvina Ziehnke, as a parishioner in Wright's church in Pittburg, Kansas, in 1902-1903. She told her daughter and son-in-law that she watched HBW paint the picture. French says, "The lower left corner is the location of what HBW said was his signature—the 'h' with the '+' in the lower part of the h was the Bellwright sign."

If this picture is Wright's, it may represent Wright and his mother.

   
   
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This Harold Bell Wright web site is written and produced by Gerry Chudleigh with the help of many friends.
Copyright © 2000-May, 2011 by Gerry Chudleigh
Last updated 05/26/11