Eanger Irving Couse
(1866 - 1936)
board, 12 x 16 inches
Oil on board, 12 x 16 inches
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E.I. Couse Biography
Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Eanger Couse is primarily known for Taos
Pueblo Indian males sitting or squatting by camp fire light, suggesting
that Indians were peaceful, dignified human beings and not the savages
of Western lore.
In 1887, he went to Paris to the Academie Julian where his great influence became the superb draftsmanship and classical techniques of William Adolphe Bouguereau. Couse returned to Paris many times, and on one of these trips met his future wife, Virginia Walker, an art student whose family had a ranch in Oregon.
When he and his wife visited her parents on a sheep ranch in Oregon, he painted the Yakima, Umatilla, and Klikitat Indians in the pastel colors of the French Barbizon School. However, there was little interest in Indian subject matter for fine art in America. He also painted pastoral scenes, which were more popular than his Indian subjects.
"Weaving", Watercolor, 12 x 16 inches
Couse went back to France and settled in a rural town in the province of Pas de Calais on the English Channel and painted bucolic genre scenes, invariably with sheep on hillsides. Although he had stylistic influences from Europe, he became more and more determined to create an art that was uniquely American and was increasingly fascinated with Indians as subject matter.
In 1902, Couse visited Taos, New Mexico for the first time, having heard about it in Paris from his friend, Joseph Henry Sharp. In Pueblo Indians, Couse found the subject matter that seemed right for him, but he had difficulty finding ones to pose because of their belief that the soul of the sitter passes into the picture once it is completed.
In 1912, when the
Taos Society of Artists was formed, he was elected its first president,
and in 1927, he and his family moved there permanently. His wife died
two years later, much affecting his spirit and the vitality of his
Peggy and Harold Samuels, "Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"