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Eanger Irving Couse

Eanger Irving Couse

Artist: Eanger Irving Couse

Title: "Chief Shoppenegon"

Painted 1907

Size: 12" x 9"

Medium: Oil on Wood

Signature: Signed lower left


Eanger Irving Couse (American 1866 - 1936)

Born in central Michigan to Canadian parents, E. Irving Couse had a memorable early exposure to a nearby group of Indians. He credited this experience as the impetus for his later specialization in Native American themes. As a boy, he developed an interest in art by reading John Ruskin. He began doing decorative paintings in houses and railway cars to earn money to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The brief Chicago sojourn occurred in 1882. After a brief return to Saginaw to rebuild his finances, Couse moved to New York in the fall of 1883 in pursuit of further training. From 1883 to 1885 he studied antique and life drawing at the Academy school. As a student, he won the first two of a long succession of Academy prizes, the 1884 Eliot Silver Medal in the antique class and the 1885 Suydam Bronze Medal in the life class. In 1885 he moved back to Saginaw to teach and a year later left for France with his Academy classmates Louis Paul Dessar and Alfred Mayer.
Couse spent three years at the Académie Julian under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. He painted French genre scenes and developed interests first in Camille Corot and the Barbizon School, then in Impressionism. He married a fellow American art student, Virginia Walker, in 1889, and in 1891, they returned to her family's ranch in Klickitat County in eastern Washington State. There Couse had his first opportunity to paint Native American subjects. That winter he was in Portland, Oregon, doing portraits of local dignitaries.
Returning to France in 1892, Couse entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for another year of study. He then settled in Etaples, painting French peasant scenes until returning to Washington in 1896. Two years later Couse and his young family finally settled in New York. The absence of Indian models in the city frustrated him, and in 1902, in search of remedy, he summered in Taos, New Mexico. He was delighted with the Native American models he found there and returned every summer until 1927, when he became a year-round resident. Couse was the first president of the Taos Society of Artists, founded in 1915, and it is with the Taos School that he is primarily associated.
His work found considerable favor with National Academy of Design juries over the years. He won the Julius Hallgarten Prize (1900 and 1902), the Isidor Gold Medal (1911), the Andrew Carnegie Prize (1912), and the Benjamin Altman Prize (1916). He also served a term on the Council (1917-20).
Important commissions came to Couse late in life, such as a mural cycle on an American Indian theme executed for the Missouri state capitol in 1923 and perhaps his most celebrated undertaking, a series of paintings for calendars of 1922 to 1934 issued by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company. His last years were spent in a refurbished convent in Taos that he bought in 1910.

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