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

2009 Winter Catalog > 15. Leggett, “Taos Church.”

15. Lucille W. Leggett. “Taos Church,” n.d. [1950s]. Oil on canvas board, 16 x 12." Period gold-toned frame: 22 1/2 x 18 1/2." Signed in l. r. corner. “Taos Church” inscribed on verso. Very fine.

Price: $4,500. [ Order ]

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.

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. She was particularly interested in the local way of life and its heritage, an inclination apparent in the present work, Taos Church. Leggett’s lively, bright colors suggest influences from the folk traditions indigenous to the borderlands of the United States and Mexico.

Taos Church depicts one of the lesser-known churches in Taos with Taos Mountain looming in the background. Leggett portrays the church from its distinctively shaped façade. Three worshippers approach the entrance through the outside wall. The forms and brushwork in the church building, distant mountain, trees and clouds participate in an uplifting motion, harmonizing with the spirit of the subject. The sacred mountain of Taos itself has an ancient spiritual legacy native to Taos. 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.

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.

Taos Church captures the earthy spiritualism that characterizes many of the indigenous communities of the Southwest.

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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