Joe De Yong Diorama
This fabulous sculpture of one of Ben Holliday’s stagecoaches and 6 horses set in diorama fashion was once housed at the Tecolote Ranch in Winchester Canyon. The 1932 masterpiece by Joe De Yong was recently gifted to the museum by The Deborah Spalding Pelissero Family. Along with the diorama was the original letter from Joe De Yong to Silsby Spalding, owner of Tecolote Ranch. It is now on display at the Carriage Museum.
Joe De Yong Artist, Illustrator, Writer and Sculpture
Joe De Yong (1894 – 1975) was an artist, illustrator, writer and sculpture who lived during the golden age Western of art in the last century. He was born in the heartland – near St. Louis, MO in the small town of Webster Groves. His parents picked-up and moved to “Indian territory” near Dewey, Oklahoma where his father, Adrian DeYong, opened a mercantile store and young Joe attended school and worked on ranches with a deep love of the cowboy ways.
He had the opportunity to meet and work on a few western films with the then silent-screen hero, Tom Mix but during that period in early 1913, contracted an illness. Mix notified De Yong’s parents with a short, to-the-point telegram – “Joe has cerebromeningitis. The doctor says seriously. Tom Mix” Joe would ultimately recover, but he would be left deaf. In 1916, DeYong had the opportunity to correspond with and ultimately meet the great western artist of the day, Charles M. Russell. It would be one of many introductions that would change DeYong’s life. In this case, he would work with Russell in his studio for ten years until Russell’s death in 1926.
De Yong was very close to both Charlie and his wife Nancy Russell – who helped him with his career. The two introduced DeYong to Howard Eaton, owner of the Eaton Ranch – one of the first guest ranches in the West. De Yong would work there thru the 1920’s and later move to Santa Barbara, CA to work with other artist friends of Russell including Edward Borein, Maynard Dixon, and others.
De Yong’s life would go on to include work in Hollywood on numerous classic westerns as well being a tremendous influence on the lives of other western artists. His writings, art, and sculptures would create a picture of a region’s culture that would change dramatically at the end of the 1930s with the start of WWII. Joe De Yong’s story is an untold one about a quiet man who influenced many and helped establish and celebrate many important western artists. Joe DeYong died in Los Angeles, CA in 1975 but left behind an important contribution to the art and culture of the American West.