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E. Irving Couse

E. I. Couse was, perhaps, the most famous of the members of the Taos Society of Artists during the period of active production from the group. A highly specialized artist with a rigorous academic background, Couse painted serious figurative scenes of the Indians of Taos Pueblo, usually crouching and often fire-lit.

Couse used the same two individuals, Ben Lujan and Geronimo Gomez, as the subjects for the majority of his paintings. Though the lines and colors of Couse’s work are quite smooth, it is possible to see Lujan and Gomez age over time. Usually they are kneeling or squatting, engaged in a quotidian task such as preparing food or crafts, and are often lit by firelight. In the daylight scenes, Couse used a soothing palette and a softness of tone and detail to create peaceful scenes of the natives’ relationship with nature. Though Couse’s pieces are less ethnographically accurate than some of his contemporaries, his handling of his subjects is enormously generous and unforced, with a relaxed quality that impresses in its ability to convey concentration or rest with very little facial or muscular detail.

E. I. Couse died in 1936 a successful and famous painter, whose gift to western art was significant and who is still recognized today as a major figure in the development of a significant school of American peinture.

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