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

2009 Winter Catalog > 8. Rönnebeck, “El Monte Sol, Santa Fe, N.M.”

8. Arnold Rönnebeck. “El Monte Sol, Santa Fe, N.M.,” 1927. Lithograph (unnumbered). Image: 8 x 11 1/2." Sheet: 11 1/2 x 16." Signed in pencil, l. r.: “Arnold Rönnebeck.” Titled in pencil, l. l.: “El Monte Sol, Santa Fe, N.M.” Paper watermark: FRANCE. Very slight age toning. Very fine.

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Rönnebeck brought a sculptural boldness to landscape subjects through his masterful lithographs. The present image is a powerful interpretation of a New Mexico landscape that reflects the artist’s love of the area and his aesthetic grounding in international modernism. This pastoral scene is dominated by twin peaks, rendered as large, impressive masses contrasted with the serenity of simple abodes and cultivated fields below. Where Rönnebeck’s later New Mexico landscapes often move with dramatic energy, El Monte Sol breathes with a sense of the enduring energies of the earth.

As a young man, Arnold Rönnebeck (1885–1947) studied sculpture at the Royal Art Schools of Berlin and Munich. Moving to Paris in 1908, he continued his study with the sculptor Aristede Maillol. Maillol was a master of abstraction whose simplified human forms always retained an earthy vigor—a sensitivity that would echo in Rönnebeck’s landscape images. While in Paris, Rönnebeck became part of the avant-garde enclave that included Gertrude and Leo Stein, as well as Marsden Hartley. In 1923, Rönnebeck moved to New York City, and at the behest of Hartley he entered the circle of modernist 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 in 1918 to Taos, New Mexico.

Rönnebeck first visited New Mexico in 1925, and stayed with 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, where the landscapes and villages continued to inspire Rönnebeck’s art.

Works by Rönnebeck are held in 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. Another copy of the present print forms part of the collection of the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque.

Ref.: Clinton Adams, Printmaking in New Mexico, 1880–1990 (Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 1991), pp. 40, 43, 144, n. 22.

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