With muted, neutral shades of browns and a stern, serious atmosphere, this oil on board painting presents a solemn picture of life, crime, and justice in the Wild West. Created as the cover of He Hanged Them High: An authentic account of the fanatical judge who hanged eighty-eight men this shows the notorious hanging judge Isaac C. Parker at his desk. A real life figure who served as a United States Representative from Missouri and was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Parker became known as the “Hanging Judge” of the American Old West due to the large number of convicts whom he sentenced to death. In 21 years on the federal bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases. In more than 8,500 of these cases, the defendant either pleaded guilty or was convicted at trial. Parker sentenced 160 people to death; 79 of them were executed.
Parker features as a character in True Grit as well as numerous other fictionalized tales of the old west. Here, he is depicted as
flinty man in a three piece suit with a gun belt wrapped around his waist stands tall and severe at his desk. He leans his knuckles onto the top of the wood, a gavel gripped in one hand. An ink well and feather pen sits before a piece of paper he has been writing on. The dimly lit wall behind him displays a single Wanted poster tacked up to the rough wood grain. The window to the right gives a clear view of the gallows backlit by the setting desert sun. A convicted criminal still hangs from the noose.
This has been signed by the artist Richard Cardiff in the lower right corner.