I was the young naïve age of 11 when my family visited the renowned Louvre. I remember feeling so small in the expansive hallways and galleries filled with art from times past. I still remember Michelangelo’s David was revealing and that Mona Lisa followed my every move.
It was in one of those vast hallways that my father and I were looking at some painting deemed worthy to have a place in that temple to deceased artists. I looked in both directions before turning to my dad. Among the quiet that respectfully befalls such a place, I blurted out, “Where’s Custer’s Last Stand? I want to see it.” I think a pin dropped as a few people glanced our way.
With patient embarrassment, he whispered, “It’s not in the Louvre.” He may have followed up with a brief explanation, but I don’t remember. We quickly moved to the next gallery, passing the rest of the oils and sculptures we hadn’t seen.
I had seen a picture of Custer’s Last Stand while reading about General Custer and Crazy Horse and wanted to see the painting in person. At the time, da Vinci and Michelangelo were great and all, but I had my heart set on Edgar Paxson’s depiction of that historical battle. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
I have yet to see Custer’s Last Stand, but I will. One of these days I will travel to Cody, Wyoming and visit the Whitney Gallery of Western Art where I now know that famous painting hangs. There, I will pay homage to the Natives who won the battle, Paxson whose unbiased journalism took the form of realistic paintings and sketches, and the “characters” that came alive through reading.