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Breaking the Trail
Artist Stephen Lyman was an unparalleled wildlife painter in his lifetime with a wide range of subjects from the near extinct and elusive, to the backyard visitor. Inspired by the naturalist John Muir, Lyman’s life’s work was the discovery and portrayal of the wonders of the natural world. Lyman was as likely to turn his attention to the seemingly insignificant (plants, trees, rock formations) he encountered along the trail as he was to focus on the impressive and captivating “megafauna” such as this bison. He considered himself, in this regard, a painter of the wilderness, not a wildlife painter.
"Breaking the Trail" is an example of Lyman's ability to capture wildlife in an environment that provides both scale and a glimpse of the animal’s habitat. Bison not only roamed the Great Plains but made their way well into the mountains and the forests throughout their expansive North American rangelands. Additionally, riding out a snowstorm in the tall pines was most likely a preferable experience to one on the open prairie.