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Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956)
In the Foothills
signed 'E.M. Hennings' (lower right)
oil on canvas laid down on board
14 x 13 7/8 in. (35.6 x 35.2 cm.)
Acquired by the present owner, 1983.

Lot Essay

Throughout his career, Ernest Martin Hennings 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)

As an artist, Hennings was meticulous and precise. As a carefully refined work on canvas, Hennings put considerable effort into even a smaller format work such as In the Foothills, demonstrating his mastery of color, fluid form, and an overall rich and painterly surface. The spectacular landscape and lifestyle of the Southwest inspired Hennings' work for over thirty years. "The paintings of E. Martin Hennings are glowing tapestries that celebrate the pageantry and beauty of the people and landscape of northern New Mexico. In them the land itself--the canyons, mountains, streams, and forests--suggests the color and romance of a Renaissance weaving. Against this richly hued background, the Indian people of Taos Pueblo, the Spanish-American people of the neighboring mountain villages, and the Anglos living and working in New Mexico are the protagonists of a historic tableau. Hennings looked upon the rivers, forests, and high desert of Taos and the people of the Pueblo and villages as an endless source of artistic inspiration, a treasury of visual pleasures." (Taos: A Painter's Dream, p. 253)

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