A 19th Century Painting of a Native American by Eanger Irving Couse


A Native American man stands in a state of repose, gazing upward and holding eagle feathers in his left hand, is depicted in a traditional leather sinew and shoes, with a red-tipped feather placed in his hair. The palette reflects Couse's tonalist style, and with very few brushstrokes is able to encapsulate the essence and mood of the figure.

Couse began his artistic education in 1866 where he briefly attended the Chicago Art Institute. In 1884, he enrolled in the National Academy of design in New York, and after three years of success and encouragement, enrolled in the Academie Julien in Paris. It was in Paris, under the instruction of William Bouguereau, that Couse refined the draftsmanship and classical techniques of his strong Academic style of art. Couse’s interest in Native American cultures developed as a child, as a result of his exposure to local Indians living near him in Michigan, where he grew up painting the Chippewa Indians, and would remain a prominent theme of his work throughout his entire career. He spent every summer in Taos between 1902 and 1926, eventually moving there permanently in 1927. In 1915, Couse co-founded the Taos Society of Artists.

For many of his paintings, Couse used the same two models, Taos natives Ben Lujan and Geronimo Gomez, who can be seen in Couse's compositions depicting aspects of everyday life in the Indian culture. 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 contributed to making Taos a major tourist attraction.

30 x 16 in.