DescriptionEANGER IRVING COUSE (American, 1866-1936)
Prayer to the Rain God, circa 1926
Oil on canvas
24 x 29 inches (61.0 x 73.7 cm)
Signed lower right: E.I. Couse
THE HOGAN FAMILY COLLECTION
This painting will be included in Virginia Couse Leavitt's forthcoming catalogue raisonné.
McAdoo Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 1976.
Southwest Arts Foundation, Houston, Texas, "Art of the American West", March 13-April 3, 1982.
Prayer to the Rain God depicts Jerry Mirabal, one of E.I. Couse's favorite models and personal friend. Also known by his tribal name of Elk Foot, Mirabal was an American Indian from the Taos Pueblo whose distinct profile appears extensively throughout Couse's work. It is the iconic image of Mirabal which has been preserved in some of the artist's most important canvases. When asked about Elk Foot's prolific appearance in his art, Couse reportedly answered that Mirabal was one of his favorite subjects because of his "physical beauty and ideal features."
Couse is best known for his dramatically-lit figures of Pueblo Indians, frequently depicted crouching beside a fireplace or bathed in moonlight beside the banks of a stream. Prayer to the Rain God epitomizes the subject matter and the technical skill of this National Academy graduate. Couse was a master of rendering interior scenes of domestic life, and capturing the quiet moments of contemplation and prayer as seen here. A prayer for rain, that element essential to life everywhere but more precious to the arid regions of the southwest, is a universal theme that still resonates.
This major example of Couse's work was completed around the time that the artist moved his studio and residence from New York to Taos. As the first president of the Taos Society of Artists, Couse spent the summers of 1902 through 1926 painting in northern New Mexico. In 1927 he finally relocated there permanently. According to Virginia Couse Leavitt, the artist's grand-daughter, Prayer to the Rain God dates from this period within Couse's career. She adds "the large Tesuque Rain God, leggings, belt, arm and headbands are still in the collection housed in his studio. The symbolism of the wall painting [behind the figure] also relates to rain." The artist's studio in Taos, complete with the artifacts he collected during his lifetime, is one of only thirty such sites to be designated an Historic Artist's Home and Studio Associate Site by the U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation.
More information about EANGER IRVING COUSE, also known as Couse, Eanger Irving, Couse, E. Irving, Couse, Eanger-Irving, Eanger Irving Couse.
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