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    Sale 1911

    Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

    29 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 186

    Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956)

    Indian Summer

    Price Realised  


    Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956)
    Indian Summer
    signed 'E. Martin Hennings' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    30¼ x 30¼ in. (76.8 x 76.8 cm.)

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    Indian Summer is a vivid and spirited depiction of Ernest Martin Hennings' classic treatment of the landscape and people of Taos, New Mexico. Composed in the artist's high-keyed palette of bright yellows and blues, the present composition expertly underscores the high regard Hennings received in his day and the popularity his work maintains today. Throughout his career, he was constantly inspired by the people he lived with among the Taos pueblo and in his work he sought to capture this reverence he held for the Native American culture and their way of life among a rapidly changing environment. "He portrayed them as introspective, dignified individuals, regal in demeanor and bearing, with a suggestion of stoicism and sadness as they faced an uncertain future. He often chose as his subject, groups of blanketed Indians passing through the woods on horseback. These lines of riders suggest the eternal procession of life in New Mexico--a procession in which Taos Indians have participated for centuries." (P.J. Broder, Taos: A Painter's Dream, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980, p. 253)

    In Indian Summer, Hennings contrasts the boldly outlined forms of rocks and trees with the bright color fields of mountains and patterns of leaves, creating an almost abstract interwoven plane of line and color. "He frequently used the convention of blocking the distance with a screen composed of tree trunks, branches and leaves, thus negating the illusion of distance and depth and emphasizing the two-dimensional quality of the canvas. He often included sharply outlined foreground figures, their silhouettes abruptly cut off by the edge of the paintings. This artistic device evokes a sense of immediacy and emphasized the power inherent in the subject. These decorative compositions greatly resemble brightly woven tapestries. Portrait and landscape are fused into a harmonious whole that proclaims the beauty and vitality of life in Taos." (Taos: A Painter's Dream, p. 256)

    The dramatic and vibrant seasonal colors of Taos inspired him as well. He wrote: "'Landscape plays so important a part of my work, and subjects of sage, mountain and sky. Nothing thrills me more, when in the fall, the aspen and cottonwoods are in color and with the sunlight playing across them--all the poetry and drama, all the moods and changes of nature are there to inspire one to greater accomplishment from year to year.'" (Taos: A Painter's Dream, p. 253) As evident in Indian Summer, his "most successful canvases are those in which he interwove the threads of landscape and figure forms. His special talent lay in this ability to integrate human figures and natural forms into a single aesthetic creation. Silhouettes of standing and seated figures, tree trunks, branches, foliage, sage, and underbrush, adobe buildings, woodland paths, and the river's edge--all are interdependent forms." (Taos: A Painter's Dream, pp. 253-56)

    Distinguished Taos patron, Mabel Dodge Luhan summarized the underlying powerof his art, "Hennings gives us a remembrance of the true life beneath the apparent turmoil of our life. We are grateful to him for the reminder of true reality that we know is always underneath the detail of our tiresome hours." (as quoted in Taos and Its Artists, New York, 1947, p. 38)

    Special Notice

    On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.


    Private collection, Bel-Air, California.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from a Private American Collection


    Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Art Museum, Classic New Mexico, 1898-1950: Paintings from Valley Collections, June 1-September 23, 2007.


    Wickenburg, Arizona, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Arizona Collects, February 7-April 12, 2004.