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Artist’s label with title
Label, Jim Fowler Period Gallery West, Scottsdale, AZ

Discussing this painting, historian Virginia Couse Leavitt writes, “Couse was famous for his depictions of both moonlight and firelight, and on numerous occasions he challenged himself to explore the qualities of both in the same canvas. River Camp – Moonlight is a prime example of this interest.

“When Couse first arrived in Taos in 1902, one of his models was a ten year old boy named Ben Lujan. Ben posed for Couse for the next 23 years, until the artist’s death in 1936. He appears in many Couse paintings, often with one or more of his own children. River Camp – Moonlight depicts a moonlit night in which Ben has built a fire on the river bank where he is camped with two of his children. Crouching beside the fire, Ben and his son are partially bathed in its glow. His daughter stands behind them where only a slight afterglow from the fire reaches her. She wraps herself in a blanket as the cool moonlight begins to envelope her into the surrounding landscape. Within the landscape itself, Couse explores a wide range of tonal effects caused by the moonlight. As it highlights the texture of foliage and grass, it is absorbed in dark shadows, and spreads over the gleaming course of the river. In this painting Couse contrasts the comforting warmth of firelight with the cool mystery of moonlight. Lack of light prevents an artist from painting night scenes on site; they are of necessity based on many hours of careful observation and memory. Couse was a master of this genre.”

Guido R. Rahr, Sr., Manitowoc, WI 1940s
Guido R. Rahr, Jr., Mound, MN 1970s
Present owner, by descent

A Retrospective Exhibit, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM, June 1936

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