LOT 312

Oscar Berninghaus


Home Seekers in Indian Country

MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

DIMENSIONS: 25 x 30 inches

Signed lower right


SOLD FOR: $99,450.00

Including Buyers Premium

Additional Information

Eleanor Burkhart Galleries, Peoria, IL
Private collection, St. Louis, MO
Acquired from the above, ca. 1940s
By descent to his son.

The phrase “home seekers” is an interesting one that pops up here and there among Oscar E. Berninghaus’ notes and letters. In a 1950 letter he uses the phrase to describe some of the people he laid eyes upon in Taos, New Mexico, in the summer of 1899. His trip to Taos was mostly by train and it was the train crew who noticed his interest in art. They suggested he ride on top of the train’s freight car so he could see better, though they required him to be strapped to the brakeman’s iron guardrail that ran across the top of the car. “As we stopped and passed Servilleta, a station now gone, the brakeman pointed out a certain mountain lying toward the east; this he called Taos Mountain, and told me of a little Mexican village of the same name and the Indian Pueblo lying at the foot of it. That it was one of the oldest towns in the United States (he knew) and gave me some of its history, describing it all so vividly that I started on a twenty-five mile wagon trek over what was comparatively a goat trail,” Berninghaus writes in the 1950 letter, which is quoted from in Oscar E. Berninghaus: Taos, New Mexico—Master Painter of American Indians and the Frontier West. “The trip took 10 hours, and the wild expanse of mountain and desert, the curious coyotes and pronged-horned antelopes that trotted along behind the coach or stood close-by while the conveyance passed, delighted me as did the little adobe town and the massive piles of the pueblo. I found it all as the brakeman had described it and more so, a barren plaza with hitching rail around it, covered wagons of home seekers, cow and Indian ponies hitched to it. A few merchants and too many saloons made up the business section; there were comparatively few Anglos, some of these had mining interests, some were health seekers, and some perhaps fugitives from justice, as Taos might well be a good hide-out place at the time…I stayed here but a week, became infected with the Taos germ and promised myself a longer stay the following year.”

The irony of the description, even 51 years later, is that Berninghaus was describing himself as he gazed upon Taos—the home seeker had found his home.


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Please note that the first unframed photo is most accurate for color. Framed photographs are to show the frame and are not color corrected to the painting.

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