In a small town in the West, a young artist named Lonny Briscoe creates a painting that captures the attention of the local legislature. The painting, a depiction of a stampeding steer, is hailed as a masterpiece and is displayed in the Capitol building.
Senator Kinney, a powerful figure in the legislature, champions the painting and convinces his colleagues to appropriate funds to purchase it.
Senator Mullens, representing the San Saba country where Lonny is from, also supports the purchase.
The painting is seen as a tribute to Lonny's grandfather, Lucien Briscoe, a revered figure in the state's history. However, as the day for the bill's introduction approaches, Lonny begins to doubt the artistic value of his painting. He seeks the opinion of a famous artist visiting the town, who tells him that the painting is not a work of art but a gun to hold up the state for money. Lonny is disheartened and decides to ride into the Capitol on his horse, tearing through the painting and renouncing any claim to the state's money.
That was a fine speech you made today, mister, but you might as well let up on that 'propriation business. I ain't askin' the state to give me nothin'. I thought I had a picture to sell to it, but it wasn't one.
He and his fellow cowpunchers ride off into the night, leaving behind the shattered remains of Lonny's artistic aspirations.