After studying in France with William Adolphe Bouguereau, among others, E. I. Couse settled in New York City but built a summer studio in Arlington, Oregon, on the Walker Ranch owned by the family of his wife, Virginia Walker Couse. Arlington sits just across the Columbia River from Washington State. Couse painted there from 1896-98, but was frustrated by the reluctance of the Native Americans there to pose for him. The local peoples–Yakima, Cayuse, Umatilla, and Klickitat–were nomadic and superstitious about allowing their likenesses to be taken by the artist. The model for this painting is not known, but he appears in a number of Couse’s canvases from this period. With the tipis tucked into the sand dunes at upper left, and the stars suggesting the onset of night, Couse is experimenting with light and color. These forays into the nocturne provided the foundation for his celebrated night scenes in Taos.
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