Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936)

portrait of eanger Irving couse


Born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1866, Eanger Couse is primarily known for paintings of Taos Pueblo Indian males sitting or squatting by campfire light, suggesting that Indians were peaceful, dignified human beings and not the savages of Western lore.

Growing up in Saginaw, he lived among the Chippewa Indians and as a youngster did sketches of the people. From a poor family, he was a determined artist who studied for three months at the Art Institute of Chicago, having earned just enough money by painting houses, and then he returned to Saginaw to earn more money so he could go to New York City which he did in 1885.

In 1887, he went to Paris to the Academie Julian to study with his inspiration, William Adolphe Bouguereau. Couse returned to Paris many times, and on one of these trips met his future wife, Virginia Walker, an art student whose family had a ranch in Oregon.

In 1902, Couse visited Taos, New Mexico for the first time, having heard about it in Paris from his friend, Joseph Henry Sharp. In Pueblo Indians, Couse found the subject matter that seemed right for him, but he had difficulty finding ones to pose because of their belief that the soul of the sitter passes into the picture once it is completed.

In 1912, when the Taos Society of Artists was formed, he was elected its first president, and in 1927, he and his family moved there permanently. His wife died two years later, much affecting his spirit and the vitality of his paintings.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Peggy and Harold Samuels, Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West

Schools of Study

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Academie Julian

Partial List of Collections

Couse-Sharp Foundation

Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

Amon Carter Museum

Denver Art Museum

El Paso Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute

Museum of New Mexico

Taos Art Museum

Worcester Art Museum

Selected Awards

The Eliot Silver Medal, National Academy of Design 1884

Prix et Medaille, Academie Julian 1888

Honorable Mention, Paris Exposition 1900

Two Bronze Medals, St. Louis Exposition 1901

Isidor Gold Medal, National Academy of Design, 1911

Silver Medal, Panama Pacific Exposition 1915

Ranger Fund Purchase 1921

Selected Exhibitions

Art Institute of Chicago

Corcoran Gallery, D.C.

Boston Art Club

World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago

Salmagundi Club, NYC

Louisana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis World Fair

Selected Works in Our Inventory