2009 Winter Catalog, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2009 Winter Catalog > 3. Rönnebeck, “Rain in the Jemez Mountains, N.M.



3. Arnold Rönnebeck. “Rain in the Jemez Mountains, N.M.,,” 1931. Lithograph, no. 12 of 50. Image: 9 3/4 x 14 1/4." Sheet: 11 1/2 x 16." Signed in pencil, l. r.: “Arnold Rönnebeck - 31.” Titled in pencil, l. l.: “Rain in the Jemez Mountains, N.M. #12/50.” Very light, even age toning. Very fine.

Price: SOLD.

Initially trained as a sculptor at the Berlin Royal Art School, the German-born lithographer Arnold Rönnebeck (1885–1947) brought what can only be called a sculptural vigor to his landscape subjects in two dimensions. A robust three-dimensionality certainly underlies the dynamism in the lithograph offered here, in which the artist depicts a cloudburst over the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Rönnebeck conveys the fury of the storm through a series of interlocking diagonals by which he defines clouds and sheets of rain. He juxtaposes the agitated diagonals of the raging winds and rain against the orderly geometry of the solid landforms below—a statement on the clash of primeval forces in nature.

Rönnebeck first came to New Mexico in 1925, at the encouragement of his friend Marsden Hartley, whom he had met in Paris some twenty years earlier. While in Paris, Rönnebeck studied with Aristide Maillol and became part of the avant-garde circle that included Gertrude and Leo Stein, as well as Hartley. Another member of the circle was Karl von Freyburg, Rönnebeck’s cousin and later the subject of Hartley’s famous German Officer series.

In 1923, Rönnebeck moved to New York City, and at the behest of Hartley he entered the circle of artists and writers around Alfred Stieglitz. In this milieu, Rönnebeck became acquainted with Mabel Dodge Luhan, the wealthy New York City hostess extraordinaire who had moved her salon to Taos in 1918.

As with so many artists visiting Taos, Rönnebeck stayed with Mabel Dodge, now the doyenne of the Taos modernist colony. The visit changed both his professional and his personal life. He was deeply impressed by the landscape and the native people, and he met his future wife, Louise Emerson, whom he married in New York in 1926. Soon after, the couple moved to Denver where Rönnebeck became director of the Denver Art Museum, a position he held until 1930. The couple remained in Colorado, but periodically visited New Mexico, the landscape and villages of which inspired numerous Rönnebeck lithographs. The present work is a vigorous interpretation of the New Mexican landscape that reflects Rönnebeck’s aesthetic grounding in international modernism.

Works by Rönnebeck are part of numerous important art collections including the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Tate Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Whitney Museum in New York, the U.S. Library of Congress and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and Yale University.

Ref.: Clinton Adams, Printmaking in New Mexico, 1880–1990 (Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 1991), pp. 40, 144, n. 22.

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