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According to Virginia Couse Leavitt, “In 1909, Couse bought a seven-room adobe house on Kit Carson Road in Taos. He immediately added a large studio with a high shelf around its perimeter to display his collection of over one-hundred Southwestern Indian pots. The two ollas in this 1923 painting titled The Pottery Maker can still be seen in situ at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site in Taos.

“The model who appears in The Pottery Maker is Jerry Mirabal of Taos Pueblo, who is shown in Plains Indian dress, along with polychrome vessels typical of pottery produced at San Ildefonso Pueblo around the turn of the nineteenth century.

“This combination of cultural sources indicates that Couse’s intent in The Pottery Maker was not to produce an ethnographic record but rather to indicate his admiration of Indian art. It is clear from his many portrayals of Indians making or decorating pottery, painting on walls or on hides, or displaying their crafts, that Couse considered Indians to be exceptional artists. It is the beautiful form and decoration of the polychrome vessels from San Ildefonso Pueblo that are the focus in this painting, making it a perfect example of Couse’s admiration for the Indian and his art.”

PROVENANCE:
The Artist
Private Collection, Colorado, circa 1923
Private Collection, by descent

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