Wednesday, November 4, 2020

"Spirit of the West" -- Gladys Brown Edwards Quarter Horse Trophy Designs

Equine artist and author Gladys Brown Edwards' work is usually associated with Arabian horses, but it's important to remember that she created art of horses of many breeds.  

Like the Quarter Horses I keep coming across!

The W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library at Cal Poly Pomona holds Gladys' papers and some of her artwork, as well as many magazines that featured her equine designs, including Quarter Horses.

This GBE Quarter Horse appeared on the cover
of Western Livestock Journal, February 1952.

Gladys Brown (Edwards) Quarter Horse head study
on the cover of The Horseman magazine.

The same design as a note card in
the collection of Gladys' papers at WKKAHL.

Quarter Horse sketch by GBE in an issue of
Here's Who in Horses of the Pacific Coast.

A couple of years ago, I found an original pencil drawing of a Quarter Horse by GBE, at the estate sale of the widow of a Southern California man who had worked for several horse publications in the 1940s and 1950s.

Subsequently, I found that it had been published in the June/July 1949 issue of Horse Lover magazine.

A couple of months ago, at an outdoor/indoor estate sale, I saw a lifesize fiberglass Quarter Horse designed by Gladys Brown Edwards for Prewitt's. It was purchased by a local man who refinished it and put it on display in his yard. 

Shortly after that, I bought two different GBE Quarter Horse trophy designs at a local online estate sale with "socially distanced in-person pickup" of the items.

Each horse is marked "GLADYS BROWN" on its belly.

Quarter Horse trophy designs by Gladys have roached manes, with forelocks
and "hand-holds" at the withers (base of the neck)....

And they show the sort of "bulldog" conformation that was popular
for Quarter Horses in the post-World War II era.

When the trophies were first produced, they were an immediate hit. 

Odessa, TX American newspaper, 28 January 1947

"Genuine Gladys Brown Quarter Horse trophies"
were marketed as horse show awards.

Horse lovers could also order one design as a Christmas gift.

The papers of Cecil Edwards and Gladys Brown Edwards at WKKAHL include a photograph of a prototype of a Quarter Horse design.

A newspaper article reported that Gladys created her prototypes in plaster. There's no indication as to the composition of this piece, which appear to have been custom-painted.

There are also testimonial letters from horse experts, showing their approval of the Quarter Horse design.  Merle L. Templeton, a charter member and officer of the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Association, wrote in 1946:

"The Gladys Brown modelled Quarter Horse depicts, in my opinion, every ideal Quarter Horse characteristic. It is a finished and smooth composite in miniature of the leading champions shown in Quarter Horse events of the day."

F. W. Koester, at one time in charge of the US Army's Quartermaster Depot in Pomona, endorsed the Quarter Horse design as well:

"The Gladys Brown American Quarter Horse model surpasses even the previous high standard of this artist's excellent work. It reveals more than just faithful modeling of conformation; it carries that elusive horse quality often described as presence or personality; it fairly breathes the spirit of the West, which the Quarter Horse so typifies."

It isn't uncommon to see GBE metal horses in model horse collections. Some collectors like them in their original finish, but I've also seen them customized in real horse colors.