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Canyon de Chelly is unique in that Payne featured an Anasazi dwelling in the background, cut into the vermillion cliffs. A rare subject for the artist.

Western art historian Donald J. Hagerty wrote, “Among the many fine landscape painters active in the West between the two World Wars, Edgar Payne stands out. Born in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, Payne left home at fourteen to pursue art and finally settled in southern California. Payne, who was primarily self-taught, encountered the ‘other’ West when, at the invitation of the Santa Fe Railway, he journeyed to the Navajo Reservation and Canyon de Chelly in 1916. He continued to make frequent pilgrimages to the region until the early 1940s.

“Artists, Payne believed, must respond to an unpolluted natural world to uncover the animate and inanimate forms around them. In his bold, structured, postimpressionist paintings, soliloquies about light, he celebrated the West’s landscapes, from the snow-capped Sierra Nevada to the limitless horizons of Navajo country. The relationship between the Native American and the landscape is a constant theme that runs through Payne’s Southwestern work, especially his paintings of Canyon de Chelly.”

The artist
Private collection, Laguna Beach, California
By descent

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