Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936) Fireside Meditation  24 1/4 x 29 1/8in overall: 30 3/4 x 35 1/2in (in the artist's frame) (Painted circa 1928-1929)

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Lot 107
Eanger Irving Couse
Fireside Meditation 24 1/4 x 29 1/8in overall: 30 3/4 x 35 1/2in (in the artist's frame)

Sold for US$ 175,000 inc. premium
Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936)
Fireside Meditation
signed 'E-I-COUSE-N-A-' (lower right), inscribed 'Meditation Firelight' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
24 1/4 x 29 1/8in
overall: 30 3/4 x 35 1/2in (in the artist's frame)
Painted circa 1928-1929


  • Provenance
    The artist.
    Josephine Pettengill Everett (Mrs. Henry A. Everett), Cleveland, Ohio, and Vista del Arroyo, Pasadena, California, purchased in 1929.
    Private collection, Pasadena, California.
    Private collection, Pasadena, California, circa 1985.

    Eanger Irving Couse's journey to Taos was a meandering one which took him from one side of America to the other. As a boy in Michigan he grew up among the Chippewa and often did sketches of the native people, so the love of the Native American culture was in his blood from childhood. After years of European training, Couse moved to Oregon with his young family in 1897. He built a studio there and painted the Klikitat natives of the area. Four years later he moved to New York and established a successful practice painting scenes of the Northwest Indians he encountered while in Oregon. Subsequently he travelled to Taos, New Mexico for the first time to visit Burt Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein, two artists whose works he admired at exhibitions in New York galleries. On the heels of this first trip he rented a home next door to Burt Phillips' studio and began painting the local Indians of the Taos Pueblo. Couse spent every summer in Taos between 1902 and 1926, eventually moving there permanently in 1927.

    Couse was interested in the poetic aspects of everyday life in the Indian culture, so many of his compositions show his models performing tasks such as hunting, fishing, cooking and simply relaxing. Couse preferred a romantic setting and atmosphere versus more aggressive scenes of fighting and survival. He was saddened by his perception of the waning years of Indian culture, so perhaps he felt a need to record them in a more meditative, peaceful environment than some of the other Western painters of the day. Couse helped change and soften the American public's perception of the Wild West. His paintings were very well received in their day; generated national attention and also helped make Taos a major tourist attraction.

    In Fireside Meditation, Couse uses the romantic glow of firelight to capture a pensive moment for the solitary Indian in an interior. The subject is surrounded by familiar artifacts; two Pueblo vessels and a native blanket. His expression is one of pride and stoicism. The composition is a classic scene for Couse, typical of what made the artist a major name in Western art in the first quarter of the 20th century and today.

    The present work was titled Fireside Meditation in the artist's ledger when it was sold to the notable art patron Josephine P. Everett (1866-1937). The Everett's were prominent figures in Cleveland art and cultural life, where her husband, Henry A. Everett was one of the state's leading street railway developers. 1

    Their sphere of influence expanded to Southern California, when in 1925, the Everett's commissioned the architectural firm of Marston and Van Pelt to build an Italianate villa as their winter residence. 2 The Everett House (171 South Grand Avenue) supported the thriving art scene in Pasadena as a salon and music conservatory, attracting artists and musicians internationally.

    Everett was a major benefactor to the Pasadena Art Institute (now the Norton Simon Museum), The Cleveland Museum of Art, and to a lesser degree, the San Diego Museum of Art. In addition to being known for championing American Impressionism, she is credited as a founder of the Hollywood Bowl, having led financing for its site. 3

    The present work retains the artist's original frame, which according to Virginia Couse Leavitt, illustrates his simple chip carving on molding obtained from the local hardware store in Taos. By 1928, Couse was living in Taos full-time, and no longer had access to his New York framemakers.

    We wish to thank Virginia Couse Leavitt, granddaughter of the artist, for her kind assistance with cataloging the lot.

    1 "Everett, Henry A." Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Accessed August 30, 2017. Case Western Reserve University. https://case.edu/ech/articles/e/everett-henry-a/.

    2 "Residential Period Revival Architecture and Development in Pasadena from 1915-1942." California Historical Resources Inventory Database. Accessed August 30, 2017. http://pasadena.cfwebtools.com/images/other/PeriodRevivalArch_CLG2004.pdf.

    3 "Widow of Rail Pioneer Dies; Mrs. Josephine Everett, Philanthropist, Passes at Pasadena Home." Los Angeles Times, July 5, 1937, p. A1.
Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936) Fireside Meditation  24 1/4 x 29 1/8in overall: 30 3/4 x 35 1/2in (in the artist's frame) (Painted circa 1928-1929)
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