CUSTER'S LAST STAND
Detail from Edward Paxson's masterpiece, on display at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming
Near the end of 1899, Paxson completed Custer's Last Stand, which he had begun painting eight years earlier; a painting he was determined to finish nearly a quarter of a century earlier. The monumental documentary painting measures 6 by 9 feet and contains nearly two hundred figures, many of which are identifiable participants in the battle. In his efforts to achieve historical accuracy in essence and detail, Paxson had interviewed 96 officers and soldiers who were close to the battle. One of the most notable tribal Indian leaders he encountered of the Cheyenne was "Two Moon" who accompanied Paxson over the battlefield not long after the event ended. Paxson acquired photographs of the men in battle, both Indian and white, and had personal collections of relevant artifacts from the Indian wars.
In 1963 Dr. Harold McCracken, the noted historian and Western art authority, deemed Paxson's painting "the best pictoral representation of the battle" and "from a purely artistic standpoint...one of the best if not the finest pictures which have been created to immortalize that dramatic event."