Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936) The Ear of Corn 24 1/4 x 29 1/8in (Painted in 1919.)

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Lot 66
Eanger Irving Couse
(1866-1936)
The Ear of Corn 24 1/4 x 29 1/8in

Sold for US$ 87,500 inc. premium
Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936)
The Ear of Corn
signed and inscribed 'E-I-COUSE · N-A-' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 1/4 x 29 1/8in
Painted in 1919.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Conrad Hug Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, 1921.
    McPherson, Kansas City, Missouri, acquired from the above.
    Sale, Texas Art Gallery, Dallas, Texas, March 3, 1984, lot CS19.
    Acquired by the late owner from the above.

    Exhibited
    New York, Milch Galleries, and elsewhere, The Taos Society of Artists, 1920-21.

    Literature
    "Exhibitions Now On: Taos Painters at Milch Galleries," American Art News, vol. XVIII, no. 14, January 25, 1920, p. 2.
    New York Tribune, January 25, 1920, illustrated.
    "A Veteran Painter of American Indians," Southern Workman, January 1928, v. LVII, no. 1, p. 21, illustrated (as Roasting Corn).
    S.H. McGarry, Honoring The Western Tradition: The L.D. "Brink" Brinkman Collection, Kerrville, Texas, 2003, p. 70, illustrated.

    We wish to thank Virginia Couse Leavitt for her assistance researching and cataloguing this lot. This painting will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work. She has prepared the following essay:

    The Ear of Corn is one of Couse's iconic firelight paintings. His favorite model from Taos Pueblo, Ben Lujan, sits on a banco next to the adobe fireplace in the corner of the artist's studio. Brilliant firelight floods the front of the figure, while daylight coming from an unseen window behind him illumines his back and shoulders. The contrasting quality coming from these two sources of light fascinated Couse, leading him to play with this same effect in several other paintings.

    Corn was an important source of food for Native Americans, as well as playing an important ceremonial role. Both aspects are clearly implied in Couse's painting. Ben holds an ear of corn in his left hand as he pokes the fire beneath his cooking pot, while a sense of spirituality is evoked by the Indian's quiet, contemplative attitude, and by the glowing light that floods the scene.

    Because Taos was a major trading center, it is natural that objects from various cultures appear in the same context. The Plains bead work and Pueblo pottery included in the painting lend a sense of universality to the spirit of the picture. They are from the artist's own collection and are still visible in his studio at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site in Taos.

    Couse's painting The Ear of Corn was included in the 1920-1921 circuit exhibition of the Taos Society of Artists that opened at the Milch Galleries in New York. It was mentioned several times in the press, illustrated in the New York Tribune on January 20, 1920, and mentioned in American Art News as doing "credit to his reputation." While the Taos Society of Artists exhibition was in Kansas City at the Hug Galleries in March of 1921, the painting was sold to a local collector.
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