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    Description

    Eanger Irving Couse (American, 1866-1936)
    The Sculptor, 1914
    Oil on canvas
    24 x 20 inches (61.0 x 50.8 cm)
    Signed lower right: E-I-Couse

    PROVENANCE:
    Braus Art Gallery, New York;
    [Possibly]The Lutz collection;
    Private collection, Williamson, Georgia, by descent.

    EXHIBITED:
    Braus Art Gallery, New York, solo exhibition, April 8-17, 1915.

    LITERATURE:
    Art News, "Fourteen Indian Pictures at Braus Gallery," April 1915.

    Eanger Irving Couse was born and raised in the logging town of Saginaw, Michigan, where he drew the Chippewa Indians who lived nearby. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Academy of Design in New York. At the age of twenty, he traveled to France, where he studied at the Académie Julien under William Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. Couse remained in France for nearly a decade and specialized in painting landscapes and peasant subjects. In 1889, he married fellow art student Virginia Walker, a rancher's daughter from Washington, and in 1891 they settled for a year at the Walker family's ranch in Klickitat County, where Couse produced his first oil paintings of Native Americans.

    In 1902, after decades of training in illustrious institutions, Couse heard about Taos through his friend and fellow artist Ernest Blumenschein, who described the incomparable light and fresh subjects that the town's environs had to offer. Enticed, Couse and his wife began spending their summers in Taos, all too happy to leave behind the rat race of New York. In 1910, they refurbished a Spanish monastery into a home and studio. The Taos Society of Artists was formed five years later, and Couse was elected its first president. His paintings from this period readily adopted a brighter palette and indigenous subjects, particularly the Pueblo Indians, whose gentle demeanor and artistic practices reminded him of the Chippewa Indians he had drawn as a boy in Michigan.

    Rendered a year prior to the official establishment of the Taos Society of Artists, The Sculptor, 1914 embodies some of the finest qualities of the artist's oeuvre: The romantic subject of the kneeling contemplative lone Indian lost in a seemingly meditative state as he works on the task at hand. Several images of animals appear on the wall, and he is shown meticulously chiseling a new pictograph of a figure into the surface. In describing this subject, Couse wrote, "The Rocky Mountain region abounds in pictographs cut into the rocks by the ancient Indians representing figures of men and animals and symbols of natural phenomenon. Having no written language, the Indians depicted their deeds and legends by pictorial representation on skin or the rocks...."

    In April 1915, Couse had a solo exhibition of fourteen paintings at the Braus Galleries in New York, which included the paintings The Sculptor, The Medicine Water, The Pueblo Housetop, and Prayer to the Water God. He decorated the gallery with pottery, moccasins, and other Native American items from his collection to entice patrons. Couse's popularity in Taos continued to grow well after his family permanently settled there in 1927, primarily due to the patronage of the American Lithographic Company, Santa Fe Railroad, and Beacon Manufacturing Company.

    The Sculptor, 1914 epitomizes the subject matter and the technical skill of this National Academy graduate that became known as one of the greatest painters of the American West.

    We wish to thank Virginia Leavitt, granddaughter of E.I. Couse, for providing invaluable information on this lot, which will be included in her forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of the artist's work. The artist referred to this painting both as The Sculptor and as Indian Sculptor.


    More information about Eanger Irving Couse, also known as Couse, Eanger Irving, Couse, E. Irving, Couse, Eanger-Irving, .



    Condition Report*: Wax lined canvas. Under UV exam, there appears to be a 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch 'U' shape area of inpaint in the background, left of the figure's back, above the animal. Minor craquelure, most visible in the figure's hair and along the figure's backside.
    Framed Dimensions 34.5 X 30.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2021
    5th Friday
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