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In an essay titled Edgar Payne’s Southwest, Peter H. Hassrick wrote, “...Payne had clearly expressed himself about his vision as an artist, and it did not include expending effort on the mundane. The Pueblo Indians were a pastoral, agrarian people who by mid-decade had become the most popular indigenous culture in America. The Pueblo were picturesque, but the Navajo, with their nomadic ways and their expansive geographic realm, were considered sublime. Payne responded to ‘bigness,’ and Navajo land promised all that he could imagine.”

“In a biographical sketch written after Payne’s death by his widow and fellow artist, Elsie Palmer Payne, it is suggested that of all the locations that beckoned him as a muse, the American Southwest was perhaps the most compelling. The Paynes were still in Chicago when they embarked on their first extended summer trip to Arizona and New Mexico: ‘In 1916, the Santa Fe Railroad, just opening that country to tourists, sent him ... to paint the Indian Pueblos and Mesas and mountains of New Mexico and the Canyon de Chelley [sic], Monument Valley and Grand Canyon of Arizona.’ Elsie went on to say that ‘he returned to that glorious country nearly every year that he was in America the rest of his life. It was the last place he painted before his final illness.’”

The Artist
Suzanne Smith Browne, Pasadena, CA
James Wolters, Brentwood, CA
Private Collection

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