Lot 31
  • 31

Ernest Leonard Blumenschein

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Ernest Leonard Blumenschein
  • Eagle Nest Lake
  • signed E.L. Blumenschein Taos (lower right); also inscribed E.L. Blumenschein - Taos N.M. (on the frame)
  • oil on canvas
  • 28 1/2 by 37 1/4 inches
  • (72.4 by 94.6 cm)
  • Painted in 1933.


Paul Grafe, Santa Paula, California, 1946 (acquired from the artist)
By descent to the present owner


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 133rd Annual Exhibition, January-March 1938, no. 267
Ottowa, Canada, National Gallery of Canada; Toronto, Canada, Art Gallery of Toronto; Montreal, Canada, Art Association of Montreal; Hamilton, Canada, McMaster University; Winnipeg, Canada, Winnipeg Art Gallery; Edmonton, Canada, Edmonton Museum of Art; Vancouver, Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery; Saint John, Canada, Saint John Art Club; Sackville, Canada, Mount Allison University, World Tour of British Possessions Sponsored by the Canadian Government, November 1934-August 1935
Las Cruces, New Mexico, New Mexico College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts, Blumenschein: A Retrospective 1902-1958, December 1958-January 1959
New York, Grand Central Art Galleries


Richard Finnie, Blumenschein: A Self-Portrait with Notes on Four Paintings in the Paul Grafe Collection, San Francisco, California, 1946, pp. 11-12, illustrated 
Laura Bickerstaff, Pioneer Artists of Taos, Denver, Colorado, 1983, p. 44
Peter H. Hassrick and Elizabeth J. Cunningham, In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein, Norman, Oklahoma, 2008, p. 263


The canvas is lined. There is craquelure throughout, most noticeably across the center register and upper left corner. Under UV: there is a 2 inch area of inpainting in the lower left shoreline and a 4 inch horizontal line at the center left edge. There are some other scattered dots of inpainting, primarily along the top edge, and a 2 inch area at the upper left corner.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Ernest Blumenschein, a founding father of the Taos Society of Artists, made his first visit to Taos in 1898 with his friend and fellow artist Bert Philips after spending the summer months touring the southwest. During the summers from 1910 to 1918, Blumenschein rented a studio in Taos and spent the rest of the year in New York, where he continued to work as an illustrator and teach at the Art Students League. In 1919, he and his wife, who was also a painter, established permanent residency in Taos and the two contributed significantly to the development of the artistic community there. The local culture and folklore of the Native and Mexican-Americans as well as the landscape served as continued inspiration for his work. 

Blumenschein wrote of Eagle Nest Lake, “This lovely lake, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, is in a valley surrounded by mountains. I have painted it at least five times in different moods. The picture, owned by Mr. Grafe, is gay and scintillating, the result of a fishing trip on a beautiful day in the fall of 1933. I returned to the scene daily and did practically all of the painting from nature, on this canvas. Eagle Nest Lake is one of my works done without a preliminary composition. I very seldom attempted the execution of a painting of size without studies in advance. This time, however, the picture grew with few difficulties and was finished in one month. The figures in the painting are part of the character of the lake, as they are mostly Texans who come up to the cool New Mexican country for their recreation. The large man carrying a big lake trout is a portrait of the Taos cowboy painter, W. Herbert Dunton… I made no effort to reproduce any deep emotion, preferring in this instance the lyrical charm of a pleasant scene on a happy vacation day” (as quoted in Richard Finnie, Blumenschein: A Self-Portrait with Notes on Four Paintings in the Paul Grafe Collection, San Francisco, California, 1946, pp. 11-12).