Oscar Edmund Berninghaus (1874-1952)
Oscar Edmund Berninghaus (1874-1952)

A Field in Taos

Oscar Edmund Berninghaus (1874-1952)
A Field in Taos
signed 'O.E. Berninghaus' (lower right)
oil on canvasboard
18 x 24 in. (45.7 x 61 cm.)
[With]Fenn Galleries, Ltd., Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Samuel B. and Marion W. Lawrence, Winter Park, Florida, by 1992.
[With]Owings-Dewey Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
V. Leeds, Hidden Treasures: American Paintings from Florida Private Collections, exhibition catalogue, Orlando, Florida, 1992, pp. 37, 63, no. 2, fig. 34, illustrated.
Orlando, Florida, Orlando Museum of Art, Hidden Treasures: American Paintings from Florida Private Collections, January 4-February 23, 1992, no. 2.
Sale room notice
Please note that this painting will be included in the Kodner Gallery Research Project on the artist, Oscar Edmund Berninghaus, 1874-1952.

Lot Essay

Oscar Berninghaus finally settled in Taos in 1925, after having visited the town regularly since 1899. One of the founding members of the Taos Society of Artists, he established himself over the course of a productive career as one of the leading artists of the American southwest. His origins were as a commercially commissioned draftsman and illustrator, and throughout his life he stayed true to these roots, painting the expansive southwest with remarkable accuracy and with a sureness of brushstroke and line.

In A Field in Taos three figures on horseback meander through a sage-tufted valley, the vastness of the landscape governing the composition. Berninghaus' love of Taos' landscape was matched by his love of the painterly qualities of its light. "In 1913, he stated in a newspaper interview: '[Taos] is a splendid country for an artist because there are more varieties of atmosphere here than I have found in any other place.'" (as quoted in Broder, Taos: A Painter's Dream, Boston, 1980, p. 120) Berninghaus made it his custom to paint similar scenes at different times during the day, and during different seasons, becoming a master of the subtleties of the varied Taos atmosphere and light. In A Field in Taos, "Berninghaus captured a softened brightness that gives a pastel tone to the landscape." (The Legendary Artists of Taos, p. 41) The restrained yellows and greens of the field weave back to the muted blue-gray mountains and big, pale blue sky.

For Berninghaus, the Taos Society of Artists was creating distinctly American art. He is quoted as saying "I think the colony in Taos is doing much for American art. From it I think it will come a distinctive art, something definitely American--and I do not mean that such will be the case because the American Indian and his environment are the subjects. But the canvases that come from Taos are as definitely American as anything can be." (Berninghaus as quoted by L. Bickerstaff in The Legendary Artists of Taos, p. 41)

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