Eanger Irving Couse (American, 1866-1936)
On the Seine, 1894
Oil on canvas 29 in. x 39 3/4 in. (73.66 cm x 100.97 cm)
Crocker Art Museum Purchase, with funds provided by Gerald D. Gordon2008.60
Well known as a painter from Taos, New Mexico, and for his Native American subjects, Eanger Irving Couse spent the early part of his career in France. The paintings he produced there in the late 1880s and 1890s were primarily scenes of small French villages and the surrounding countryside. This painting depicts an intimate scene of Couse’s wife and their friends from Portland, Oregon, Dr. and Mrs. Holt Wilson, relaxing on a tributary of the Seine. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, Couse studied briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago and then for two years at the National Academy of Design in New York. In the fall of 1886, he went to Paris, enrolling at the Académie Julian and studying under William Adolphe Bouguereau and Tony Robert-Fleury. It was in Paris that he met his future wife, the American Virginia Walker. They married in 1889. Couse painted On the Seine while spending the summer of 1890 in the art colony of Cernay-la-Ville. Dr. Wilson and Virginia Couse are seated in the boat; Mrs. Wilson is standing on the dock. In a letter to her sister, Virginia Couse described the setting: “There is a beautiful lake with yellow & white water lillies [sic] on it. Mr. Couse has made some lovely studies of it.”1 Spending most of the next several years in France, Couse settled in Étaples. In 1898, he established a winter residence in New York, but spent summers in Washington, Connecticut, and France. In 1902, he learned of Taos through artist Ernest Blumenschein and began summering there; in 1928, he established a year-round residence.
1. Letter from Virginia Walker Couse, Cernay-la-Ville, France, to Frances Tilton Kamm, 9 July 1890. The artist’s granddaughter, Virginia Leavitt, provided a copy of this letter.