Though he spent his childhood in Lexington, Massachusetts, Harold D. Bugbee (1900-1963) came of age in the Texas Panhandle after his family moved to Clarendon in 1914. There, they joined a cousin—cattleman T.S. Bugbee—on his ranch outside town. A budding artist, Bugbee began sketching life on the ranch, a childhood talent which blossomed into a career. He spent summers at the Taos Art Colony and graduated in 1921 from the four-year Cumming School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa after only two years as a student.
During the 1920s, Bugbee exhibited in galleries in Denver, Chicago, Kansas City, and New York but turned to magazine work when sales declined during the Great Depression. It was during this period that his illustrations began to appear in publications like Western Stories, Country Gentleman, and Field and Stream, as well as Western history books including Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman by J. Evetts Haley.
In 1951, Bugbee became curator of art at PPHM. He contributed five murals in Pioneer Hall and eventually gave 200 of his works to our permanent collection. In 1961, Bugbee married Olive Vandruff, a successful wildlife painter from Kerrville, Texas, who succeeded him as art curator after his death in 1963.
The H.D. Bugbee Gallery showcases a rotation of our collection of 1,000 works by Bugbee and Vandruff and includes a detailed reconstruction of Bugbee’s studio.