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The Shaw Round Up

by Augusta I. Metcalfe

Oil on wood panel
Dimensions: 26 x 48.5
Purchased through a National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1972

The Shaw Round Up by Augusta I. Metcalfe

The Artwork

Augusta I. Metcalfe roped and branded calves, performed household chores, and tended to the other needs of her family's ranch operation. At the end of the day, she sketched what she has seen. This painting depicts the Shaw Ranch in Roger Mills County near Augusta I. Metcalfe's home.

"Few of us can escape primeval sentence that we shall live by the sweat of our brows, but all of us, even though our lots be cast in scenes of isolation and hardship, where books and music and art are little known, and perhaps a common schooling not always to be had, may reach out for themselves and rise about the daily grind of household duty to seek for the beautiful and claim it for our own." -Augusta Metcalfe

"When the time came in the fall of the year to wean calves, they would round up cattle, cut out the calves, and drive the calves to Texas. On the return trip they would bring the brother-in-law's cattle back to Oklahoma. That way you will understand they needed no corrals or good fences to keep the cows and calves separated while being weaned." -Howard Metcalfe, son of the artist

The Artist

Born near Vermillion, Kansas, on November 10, 1881, Augusta Isabella Corson moved to what is present day Roger Mills County in 1893. By the age of five, her family was well aware of her artistic tendencies, and her maternal uncle George Davidson, a professor in San Francisco, sent her drawing supplies and critiqued her work.

In 1905, two years after the death of her father, she married James Metcalfe. In 1908, her husband left, and Metcalfe took care of her infant son, her mother, and the ranch operations. Though many days she found herself stringing fence wire, planting, harvesting, roping, branding and preparing meals, she always returned to her passion for art.

In 1908, at the first Oklahoma State Fair, Metcalfe won two first prize awards for her paintings. She continued to win first place awards in contests she entered including the Oklahoma State Fairs of 1909 and 1910, and the Amarillo Tri-State Fairs of 1948, 1950, and 1952.

Though some critics stated that Metcalfe's paintings had too much detail, the broader public disagreed, and her work was displayed at New York's Grand Central Station Art Galleries, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, and the Philbrook Museum of Art. In 1949, her work was featured in a one-person exhibition at the Oklahoma Art Center. In 1959
Life magazine featured color reproductions of her work. Augusta I. Metcalfe is included in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.