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Lonesome Dove Photographs

AUGUST 23, 2007 - MARCH 30, 2008


In 2007, the Wittliff Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos presented the 10th publication in its series, A Book of Photographs from Lonesome Dove by Bill Wittliff, bringing the sweeping visual imagery of the CBS miniseries to the printed page at last.

The major archive of these photographs (a total of 215), gifted by Wittliff and his wife Sally, resides in the Gallery’s permanent collection at Texas State’s Alkek Library. 

Published by the University of Texas Press, the large-format, 188-page book features over 100 of the toned black-and-white photographs created by Bill Wittliff—the award-winning screenwriter and co-executive producer of Lonesome Dove—which he selected from his archive of over 5,000 negatives shot on set.

A renowned fine-art photographer, Wittliff took these images during the filming, not as production stills, but with an artist’s eye. Described by Texas Monthly magazine as “landscapes of Texas myth... [that] whisk us back not just to 1988 but to the late 1870s,” Wittliff’s images are reminiscent of the nineteenth-century cowboy photographs by Erwin Smith and the western paintings of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.

A Book of Photographs from Lonesome Dove will be available from major booksellers and UT Press in early October. Larry McMurtry, author of the Pulitzer-winning novel, provides the foreword; the introduction, which can be read on the UT Press website, is by Stephen Harrigan. In the afterword Wittliff himself recounts landmark moments from the production and filming. A roster of the cast and crew completes the text. Author royalties from the book’s sales go to support collection funding for the Gallery and the Southwestern Writers Collection.

Signed copies of A Book of Photographs From Lonesome Dove are for sale by the Wittliff Gallery for the price of $45.00 plus tax and shipping.

This year the Texas Book Festival has chosen as its signature image Wittliff’s iconic Crossing the Rio Grande, which captures the Hat Creek Outfit (Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover, Rick Schroder, Robert Urich, Tim Scott, and D.B. Sweeney) fording the river at dusk from Texas into Mexico. Festival events, which will take place November 3 and 4 at the State Capitol in Austin, are being planned surrounding the book. Poster and festival information are at

Crossing the Rio Grande and other photographs from the Lonesome Dove series can be purchased through the Stephen L. Clark Gallery in Austin and the Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe.


The hats, guns, and boots of Woodrow F. Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae (played by Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall) are just a few of the authentically created costume pieces and other filmmaking memorabilia from the Southwestern Writers Collection’s Lonesome Dove holdings that will be displayed in the new, larger exhibition space opening October 13.

The bulk of the Lonesome Dove artifacts came to Texas State through the efforts of Bill and Sally Wittliff, founders of the Collections. Bill donated his own materials and convinced many of the crew—including production designer Cary White, costume designer Van Ramsey, property master Eric Williams, and executive assistant Connie Todd (who is now head curator of the Collections)—to do the same.

The result is a near-complete production record, from the first screenplay drafts, costume sketches, and set designs to the script pages, principal props and costumes, production notes, and every printed take—almost 80 hours of film “dailies.” For several years parts of the miniseries collection have been rotating in and out of two dedicated cases; in the new exhibit room visitors will experience a significantly greater portion of this popular archive with more items permanently on exhibit, including larger pieces such as the Hat Creek Cattle sign.

The exhibit room opening on October 13 will include the unveiling of a specially commissioned 32" x 80" x 1½" painted-wood relief carving by Austin artist David Everett. The polychrome mahogany panorama depicts seven of the central Lonesome Dove characters riding through a fantastically imagined Rio Grande landscape of native flora and fauna. This makes the fifth Everett piece at the Collections; the others are a large relief-carving portraying Cabeza de Vaca, a reticulated woodcarving of a pinto horse, and the Southwestern Writers Collection and Wittliff Gallery signage plaques that welcome visitors.


The Lonesome Dove Archives are featured in the Lonesome Dove Collection section, where a variety of the miniseries’ memorabilia is displayed and discussed, and the complete materials finding aid is available for viewing.

Bill Wittliff, of Austin, Texas, is a distinguished photographer and writer whose images have also been published in the books La Vida Brinca and Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy and exhibited in the United States and abroad. With his wife, Sally, he founded Austin’s highly regarded Encino Press and the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography and the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos. As a screenwriter and producer, his credits include Lonesome Dove, The Perfect Storm, The Black Stallion, and Legends of the Fall, among others. A graduate of the University of Texas, Wittliff is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, a past board member of the Sundance Institute, a board member of the Austin Film Festival, and a member of the Texas Philosophical Society. He is also a past president and Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters and a recipient of major awards for writing, filmmaking, and book design. A 2002 recipient of the Texas Book Festival's Bookend Award, Bill was recently honored with the Texas Medal of Arts and the TIL Lon Tinkle Award for Excellence Sustained Throughout a Career. He serves as editor of the Wittliff Gallery Book Series with UT Press, and is currently completing a motion-picture script about Lieutenant General Claire Chennault and the Flying Tigers.