Arts / Museums

Fort Worth’s Western Museum Showcases Two Iconic Saddles Made by a Hollywood Pioneer

The Sid Richardson Museum Celebrates 40 Years With Masterpieces

BY // 01.19.22

The Sid Richardson Museum opened in 1982 in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square. Richardson, the oilman who struck black gold in the 1930s, became a local legend and philanthropist — and began acquiring Western art. Especially oils and bronzes. The museum serves as a permanent home for the artworks Richardson purchased between 1942 and 1959. Including some of the finest examples of Remingtons and Russells you’ll find anywhere.

Now, in celebration of its 40 years focusing on the art of the American West, The Sid Richardson Museum will feature an exhibition of two historic saddles by one of the most iconic saddle makers in the world ― Edward H. Bohlin.

Who knew when Bohlin left his homeland of Sweden at the age of 15, that he would make it all the way to Los Angeles? His passion for the American West took the Swede first to Montana and then Wyoming, where he worked on ranches and even drove a stage coach, before opening a small leather-working shop in Cody, Wyoming. When that didn’t pan out, Bohlin joined a traveling Wild West show and headed to the coast.

Famed saddle maker Edward H. Bohlin immigrated from Sweden and became a true cowboy – making his way to Los Angeles.

Once in Los Angeles, at the dawn of silent movies and the beginnings of Hollywood as we know it, Bohlin began a career in show business. Making boots, saddles and other costume pieces for Western movies, even acting as an extra in a few himself.

His pieces were both functional and fashionable works of art. Bohlin soon became known for his meticulous craftsmanship in leather and silver. Saddles and chaps were utilitarian necessities for every cowboy on the open plains but Bohlin made them into coveted artistry, drawing the attention of cowboys and celebrities alike.

Bohlin created parade saddles for Hollywood cowboy legends including John Wayne, The Lone Ranger and Roy Rogers.

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Cowboys, dignitaries and other equestrians proudly employed Bohlin saddles and spurs along the parade route during the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, which served to cement the Western mystic around the world. Bohlin saddles remain highly coveted by Western art collectors today.

Just how coveted? In 2010, Christie’s sold one pristine example of his work for $242,500 at auction. It was saddle used on the Hollywood horse Trigger Jr., and marked with an “RR” for Roy Rogers.

Edward H. Bohlin saddles remain among the most sought after for collectors.

One of the saddles on display at the Sid Richardson Museum is one of a set of four saddles that were presented to Fort Worth Stock Show officials in 1947. These saddles were ridden in the annual parade by Stock Show leaders along Main Street where the Sid Richardson Museum now resides, bringing the exhibit full circle.

The saddles on display show off Bohlin’s mastery of engraved sterling and hand-tooled leather work. Other artifacts also on display include pages from an Edward H. Bohlin, Inc. catalog, from 1927, (Courtesy, Cabin Creek Enterprises LLC).

Coming up this fall, the Sid Richardson Museum will host another special exhibit to celebrate the museum’s 40th anniversary: Night and Day: Frederic Remington’s Final Decade. The exhibit will examine works made by the artist from 1901 to 1909. That show will run from September 24 to May of 2023.

Until then, saddle up and enjoy the Bohlin masterpieces on view, a taste of Western heritage at its finest.

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