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A Very Special Limited Edition Print
With initialed, first day cover, featuring the stamp designed by Mort Kunstler for the U.S. Postal Service.
Image size: 12 3/4" x 15"
Overall size: 18 3/4" x 20"
2500 limited edition numbered and signed
100 Artist Proofs numbered and signed
25 Hors de Commerce
Reproduction Technique: Fine offset lithography, printed on 100% rag, neutral pH, heavy vellum, custom made stock, using fade resistant inks.
They helped tame the West. Twelve of them earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. And they were proud to be called Buffalo Soldiers.
They were the black troops of the Ninth and Tenth U.S. Cavalry and the 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry. Led by white officers, the four regiments were comprised entirely of African-American soldiers. In the late 19th Century, they patrolled the turbulent Western frontier from Arizona to Montana, and distinguished themselves in campaigns against the Apache, Cheyenne and Sioux.
It was the Cheyenne who first referred to these hard-fighting black men in blue as Buffalo Soldiers - reportedly because their hair resembled that of the revered bison. To the Plains Indians, the buffalo was a symbol of strength and courage - characteristics easily identified with the black troops of the West. Proudly adopted, the name became a highly respected American legacy - Buffalo Soldiers of the West.
Mort Künstler's Comments:
It was a unique honor for me to be commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service in 1994 to design a stamp honoring the Buffalo Soldiers. At the time I did two preliminary studies for the stamp. One was horizontal, the other was vertical. The vertical image was chosen because the shape worked best for a postage stamp. I always liked the other image too, however, and I told myself that someday I would try to do another Buffalo Soldier painting based on that study.
Buffalo Soldiers of the West has allowed me to realize my dream of coming back to this very special subject. I chose to paint a cavalryman because the addition of the horse allows for a more interesting and dramatic subject matter. However, the name Buffalo Soldier applied to both cavalry and infantry - and both earned equal reputations for courage, sacrifice and professionalism.
I deliberately placed the soldier and his mount against a white background to create contrast and to immediately establish the fact that these brave and famous troops were black Americans. I think the contrast is also compatible with the vastness of the American West and the loneliness that faced a soldier on the frontier. All the equipment and horse tack in the painting were standard issue for U.S. troops in the Western campaigns of the era. To me, the story of the Buffalo Soldiers is one of the great sagas of our history - and I hope Buffalo Soldiers of the West will always be a reminder of these remarkable American troops.