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    EANGER IRVING COUSE (American 1866-1936)
    Study for Flute Player with his Sons (Indian Campfire), 1916
    Oil on canvas
    6 x 35 inches (15.2 x 58.4 cm)
    Signed lower left: Couse

    Dorothy and William Harmsen, Sr. (Denver, Colorado)

    Couse family Archives;
    Ellen Landis, Eanger Irving Couse: Image Maker for America (Albuquerque, New Mexico: Albuquerque Museum Foundation, 1991) p. 19;
    Nicholas Woloshuk, E. Irving Couse 1866-1926 (Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe Village Art Museum, 1976), illus. p. 37

    Couse was born and raised in the logging town of Saganaw, Michigan, where as a youngster he drew the Chippewa Indians who lived nearby. While still a teenager 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 the state of Washington. In 1891 they settled for a year at the Walker family's ranch in Klikitat County. While living there Couse produced his first oil paintings of Native Americans.

    In 1898, Couse established a winter studio in New York, and spent the next few summers away from the city, painting in Washington, Connecticut and France. In May 1902, Couse learned of Taos, New Mexico through a conversation with his artist friend Ernest Blumenschein. Shortly thereafter he traveled to Taos for the first of his regular summer stays. In 1910 he purchased an old Spanish monastery, which he converted into a studio and home. Five years later, when the Taos Society of Artists was formed, Couse was elected its first President. In 1928, he and his family gave up their New York home and settled permanently in Taos.

    Couse painted Study for Flute Player with his Sons in the summer of 1916. A year later it served as the model for the 20 x 123 inch oil painting created as an over-mantel decoration for the private collection of George Zabriskie.

    According to the artist's granddaughter Virginia Couse Leavitt, "It is possible that Couse may have done [only] one or two other over mantels . . . . Couse called these 'decorative panels' and the only other that I have catalogued in that way is a painting measuring 20 x 42', also painted in 1916, the original owner of which was a Mr. Bradwell in Pittsfield MA. The subject is somewhat similar . . . but shows two adult males, one on the left lying on his stomach playing a flute, another on the right tending a campfire, preparing to roast a duck that lies on the ground beside the fire. Although this painting is also set under the trees beyond which there is a distant view, the composition of the two is quite different' (E-mail correspondence with Heritage Auction Galleries, April 4, 2007).

    Couse may have used a photograph as the basis for this oil study since he rarely sketched outdoors. More commonly he worked from photographs he took of models during field trips. Ellen Landis has noted that these outdoor sessions were 'often based around a particular theme, such as hunting, flute playing, or instructing a child, and resulted in images for future reference' (Eanger Irving Couse: Image Maker for America [Albuquerque, New Mexico: Albuquerque Museum Foundation, 1991], p. 19). Couse created many pictures featuring a Pueblo Indian man playing a flute, often accompanied by a woman whom he is serenading.

    Typically, Couse depicted his subjects going about their tasks in private communion with the natural world. They often appear in a tranquil woodland setting. Alta Edmondson has noted that in Taos the artist found a 'perfect backdrop [for his figures]--rivers, lush valleys, pines, quaking aspen, soft-lined, soft-colored adobe houses, sunsets and sunrises of unequalled splendor' ('E. Irving Couse, Painter of Indians,'Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 42 [1969]: 12). In keeping with his idyllic vision, as well as reflecting the lingering influence of his academic training, Couse portrayed men wearing little more than a breech cloth. As here, he regularly depicted his figures in profile, usually crouching or squatting on their heels. A camp fire appears in many of his works, and the glowing light reflecting off the skin of his models was something the artist relished painting.

    More information about EANGER IRVING COUSE, also known as Couse, Eanger Irving, Coase, E. Irving, Couse, Eanger-Irving, Eanger Irving Couse.

    Condition Report*: canvas stretched over wood block, 2 inch horizontal tear at lower margin beneath foreground figure's knee, no restoration original unlined canvas, strong color
    *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
    May, 2007
    24th-25th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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