In 1923, at the age of 27, William D. White was commissioned by Percy Gordon Beckett (1882-1973), the Vice President and General Manager of Phelps Dodge Corporation, to travel to Arizona and paint the miners of Bisbee and nearby Nacozari, Mexico. White toured the Copper Queen mine and the Sacramento Pit mine in Bisbee, a bustling town of 20,000 inhabitants. He then traveled to the Pilares de Nacozari mine in northern Mexico.
White returned home and created 20 paintings from 1923-1924. Beckett selected 17 paintings for his office and home, and in 1958 donated the collection to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where they remain on view today at the Flandrau Science Center. (Images courtesy of the Minerological Record, http://www.minrec.org.)
The whereabouts of the three paintings Beckett did not select remained a mystery until this website was discovered by a gentleman in Florida. The 1923 painting, Vending Sugar Cane, depicting Mexican miners, had been hanging in his father’s garage for over 15 years.