E. Irving Couse

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Eanger Irving Couse (1866–1936) was an American artist and a founding member and first president of the Taos Society of Artists. He is noted for paintings of Native Americans, New Mexico, and the American Southwest. Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest that it rhymed with house.[1]


Early life and education

Couse was born in Saginaw, Michigan, where he first started drawing the Chippewa Indians who lived nearby. Couse attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Academy of Design, New York. He left for Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts and Académie Julian under Bouguereau. He lived in France 10 years, where he painted charming scenes of the Normandy coast.

Artistic career

After his return to America, he devoted himself to depicting the life and habits of the Taos Indians, a Pueblo tribe in New Mexico and was active in the Taos art colony. In 1915, he became one of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists in Taos, New Mexico.

Among those in public galleries are Elkfoot (National Gallery, Washington); The Forest Camp (Brooklyn Museum); The Tom-Tom Maker (Lotos Club, New York); Medicine Fires (Montclair Gallery, New Jersey); Shapanagons, a Chippewa Chief (Detroit Museum). He was elected to the National Academy of design in 1911.[2] In 1915 when the Taos Society of Artists was formed, Couse was elected its first President.

Early works

Couse's The Captive was exhibited in 1891 at the artist's first solo exhibition, held at the Portland Art Association in Oregon, and then at the Paris Salon of 1892. This large, "salon size" painting was the first Native American subject by Couse, who later achieved fame in America for his paintings of the indigenous peoples of New Mexico. One hundred years later, The Captive was included in the controversial National Museum of American Art exhibition entitled "The West as America." Questions regarding Couse's intent have variously explored the painting's racial, sexual, and social motives.[3]

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