Lea, Tom, 1907-2001

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American artist and writer.

From the description of Papers, 1889-1974 (bulk 1937-1974). (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122648373

Tom Lea, artist and writer, was born in El Paso, Texas on July 11, 1907. After displaying a natural aptitude for painting and drawing as a child, Lea received formal training at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1924 to 1926 and as apprentice and assistant to the Chicago muralist John Norton from 1927 to 1932. In 1930, Lea traveled to Italy to study the techniques of Renaissance wall painting. One of his early murals The Nesters, painted in the Post Office Department Building in Washington, D. C., won a national competition in 1935. There followed a commission to paint the mural, Pass of the North, in the United States Court House in El Paso. J. Frank Dobie commissioned Lea to illustrate two of his books from this period, Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver (1939) and The Longhorns (1940). During World War II, Life magazine hired Lea as a combination war correspondent-artist to cover the war in the Pacific.

Lea's experiences during the war supplied him with ample material as a writer, leading to the publication of A Grizzly from the Coral Sea (1944) and Peleliu Landing (1945). Lea's lifelong friend Carl Hertzog, a book designer, printed both books as well as Lea's Bullfight Manual for Spectators (1949). After the war, Lea began to write fiction, including The Brave Bulls (1949), The Wonderful Country (1952), The Primal Yoke (1960), and The Hands of Cantú (1964). The Brave Bulls won the Carr P. Collins Award of the Texas Institute of Letters for best book by a Texan, and The Hands of Cantú won the Texas Institute's Jesse Jones Award for the best work of fiction by a Texan. Both The Brave Bulls and The Wonderful Country were produced as motion pictures. Lea continued to write non-fiction, including the two-volume The King Ranch (1957), A Picture Gallery (1968), and an account of King Ranch operations in Australia, In the Crucible of the Sun (1974).

As an artist, Lea was commissioned by Life magazine in 1946 to paint a series of canvases depicting Western cattle, which Life presented to the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. In 1953, the University of Texas Press published Tom Lea: a Portfolio of Six Paintings with an Introduction by J. Frank Dobie. Lea's first large exhibition was mounted in 1961 at the Fort Worth Art Center. Lea has also had exhibitions at the El Paso Museum of Art and the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio.

Tom Lea died in 2001 in El Paso.

From the guide to the Tom Lea Papers TXRC96-A15., 1889-1974, (bulk 1937-1974), (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Biography -- Lea, Tom. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
referencedIn Public Works of Art Project (N.M.). PWAP reports by Gustave Baumann, 1934. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lea, Tom, 1907-2001. Papers, 1889-1974 (bulk 1937-1974). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Kelly, Harold Osman, 1884-1955. Correspondence, 1948-1990 (bulk 1948-1958). Texas A&M University, Evans Library & Annex; Main campus library complex
referencedIn Lea, Tom : Biographical file. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
referencedIn Hertzog, Carl. J. Carl Hertzog papers, 1901-1985. University of Texas at El Paso
creatorOf Van Soelen, Theodore, 1890-1964,. Letters of Theodore Van Soelen, 1950-1963. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. : Series II., Alfred A. Knopf Personal, 1874-1984 (bulk 1953-1984). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Wofford, Simona Broadbent, 1884-1959. Papers, 1915-1975. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
creatorOf Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. J. Frank Dobie photograph collection, undated. Museum of the Great Plains
creatorOf Lea, Tom, 1907-2001. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
creatorOf Texas Western Press. Texas Western Press records, 1963-[ongoing]. University of Texas at El Paso
referencedIn McCombs, Holland. Holland McCombs papers, 1853-1991. University of Tennessee Martin, Paul Meek Library
creatorOf Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records. Series V., Editor Files, 1873-1984 (bulk 1960-1980). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Inventory of the H. O. Kelly Correspondence Dykes MSS 00111., 1948-1990; bulk 1948-1958 Cushing Memorial Library,
creatorOf Tom Lea Papers TXRC96-A15., 1889-1974, (bulk 1937-1974) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Bywaters, Jerry. Jerry Bywaters papers, [ca. 1900-1979]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lea, Tom, 1907-2001. Remembrance of Maud Sullivan, undated. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Reynolds, Jack E. Jack E. Reynolds papers, 1950-1977. University of Arizona Libraries
referencedIn Tom Lea [graphic]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn John Phillips Marquand correspondence, 1892-1960. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Lea, Tom, 1907-2001. Artist file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Bywaters, Jerry. person
associatedWith Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. person
associatedWith Hertzog, Carl. person
associatedWith Hertzog, Carl. person
associatedWith Kelly, Harold Osman, 1884-1955 person
associatedWith King Ranch, Inc. corporateBody
correspondedWith Marquand, John P. (John Phillips), 1893-1960 person
associatedWith McCombs, Holland. person
associatedWith Parrish, Robert. person
associatedWith Parrish, Robert. person
associatedWith Public Works of Art Project (N.M.) corporateBody
associatedWith Reynolds, Jack E. person
associatedWith Sullivan, Maud Durlin, 1872-1944. person
associatedWith Texas Western Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Soelen, Theodore, 1890-1964, person
associatedWith Wofford, Simona Broadbent, 1884-1959. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Southwest, New.
Texas--El Paso
Southwest, Old
Southwest, New
Southwest, Old.
Subject
Public librarians
Bullfights
King Ranch (Tex.)
Bullfighters
Artists, American
World War, 1939-1945
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1907-07-11

Death 2001-01-29

Americans

Spanish; Castilian,

English

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