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

2009 Winter Catalog > 14. Leggett, “Sacred Mountain.”

14. Lucille W. Leggett. “Sacred Mountain,” n.d. (1940s). Oil on canvas board, 17 3/4 x 22." Frame size: 26 3/8 x 30 1/4." Signed in l. r. corner. “Sacred Mountain” inscribed on frame verso. Surface cleaned. Presented in a period gold-toned frame. Fine.

Price: SOLD.

Working with the high-keyed palette and individualized brushwork of impressionism, Leggett conveyed the sun-drenched colors and pellucid light of the desert sky in paintings of adobe churches, houses, ranches, ghost towns, and natural features. In this view of Taos Peak, the mountain is rendered in deep blue with a pulsating rhythm above gently rolling and warmly toned foothills. A winding road leads through an aged ranch fence, lending a sense of human history and welcoming. With its bold and fresh brushwork, this painting represents a truly masterful work by this artist.

At 12,000 feet above sea level, Taos Peak looms over the surrounding Rio Grande Valley, beckoning travelers who pass beneath its shadow. Legend holds that the mountain emits a mystical energy that can summon newcomers or send them packing. More than a thousand years ago, the “Red Willow” people of the Tiwa tribe embraced Taos Mountain as their spiritual home and built the many-storied Taos Pueblo at its base. They claimed as their birthplace the sacred waters of Blue Lake, a small lake cradled in a mountain valley high above the pueblo. Blue Lake is the source of the clear stream that tumbles down the mountainside and provides water to the pueblo below. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, East Coast artists began to flock to the nearby village of Taos, attracted by the clarity of the air, the charismatic light, and the vibrant colors of the landscape. Kindred spirits—artists like Leggett, writers, and free thinkers—followed in their wake and contributed to the formation of a world-famous art colony. Today, Taos Mountain continues to hold spiritual significance for the Pueblo Indians, as well as remaining essential to the culture, religion, and daily life of the town of Taos.

Lucille Leggett (1896–1966) was born in Tennessee, and as a teenager moved to New Mexico in 1914. She married a railroad engineer and relocated to El Paso, Texas, where she studied art at a local college. She later became captivated by the desert landscape of New Mexico, especially the south-central mountains around Capitan, Carrizozo, and Ruidoso, which lay within a couple of hours’ driving distance of El Paso. In time, she gravitated north to Santa Fe, moving there in 1952 to a studio home on Canyon Road. The villages and landscape between Santa Fe and Taos soon became the primary focuses of her art.

Refs.: Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998); Samuels’ Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, p. 284.

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