Artist Eanger Irving Couse was born in the lumber town of Saginaw, Michigan on September 3, 1866. As a child he loved to draw and made many sketches of the nearby Chippewa Indians. Being of meager means he earned money by painting houses and barns and saved his money until he had $100, which would serve as three months tuition and living expenses while he studied at the Chicago Art Institute. When his money ran out he went home, more determined to continue his art education, and worked until he had enough to enroll at the National Academy of Design in New York City. He stayed there two years, supporting himself by doing odd jobs and winning prizes with his talent. He briefly returned home, this time earning money with portraits and lessons, before setting off to Paris where he learned draughtsmanship and classical technique from the fine artist Bouguereau at the Academie Julian. There he continued to win prizes and married fellow art student Virginia Walker. When Couse and his wife returned to the United States in 1891 he still had a desire to paint American Indians and they went directly to the Walker Ranch in south-central Oregon. He began painting the local Indians, first having to convince them they would not lose their souls if their images were transferred to canvas. These pictures were not in demand so he painted portraits of local dignitaries for financial support. In 1892 the Couses returned to France where
Couse received more training at the Academie Julian and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and then settled for three years in a town on the English Channel where he painted French fishing scenes and pastoral with sheep. In 1896 he returned to Oregon and began painting Indians again. By this time his paintings were doing well and he was receiving significant commissions. After one final trip to France where he exhibited in the Paris Exposition of 1900 he returned to New York where he was already, at thirty-four becoming well established. But he still wanted to paint Indians. He first went to Taos in 1902 and realized the rich source for the type of painting he loved. He spent the next twenty-six years traveling between painting in Taos and finishing and exhibiting in New York. Finally in 1928 he gave up his
New York studio to settle permanently in Taos. By then his pensive, poetic interpretation of the Taos Indian had become known to thousands from New York to San Francisco. He was given many national honors and his paintings hang in the best museums, galleries and private collections. was a member of the Taos Society of Artists that included Blumenschein, Phillips, Sharp, Berninghaus, and Dunton when it was formed in 1915 to promote the paintings of these pioneers of South Western Art. Couse is primarily known for his figures of male Taos Pueblo Indians engaged
in activities of daily life. Millions of people recognize his art because it appeared in the annual calendar of the Santa Fe Railway Company.
Our painting “Indian Father Playing a Flute” in mural format, is extremely recognizable as a Couse painting, its subject an intimate image of Native Americans in a moment of quiet repose. The colors are the bright, strong colors of the Taos palette used to capture the colorful scenery, bright sunlight and firelight glow.