7. Gerald Cassidy (1879–1934). “A Bit of Walipi,” 1920s.
Lithograph. Plate: 10 x 13 1/2." Signed and titled in the plate. Frame: 17 x 21." Minimal toning. Excellent condition for the print.
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“He spent hours, as well as days and weeks, in the hills he loved and among the Indians, studying them, the light and color effects and relations, making color sketches and notes for later elaboration in the studio. During these studies he came to know the Indian as a human being, trying to understand their point of view and life. That he succeeded in the latter to an unusual degree was shown, I think, in his sympathetic rendering of their ceremonials and in their portraits, and also at the same time of his death when Indian friends came from pueblos far away and near to add a bit f their ritual to his burial and to mourn with us.”
— Ina Sizer Cassidy
Working as an illustrator in New York City in the 1890s, Ira Diamond Gerald Cassidy gained a reputation as “one of the best commercial lithographers in the profession.” Like many artists of the period, he contracted tuberculosis and sought treatment in a sanatorium in New Mexico, where he turned his artistic eye to the landscape and people of the region. After recuperating, Cassidy moved to Denver where he met his wife Ina Sizer. The two decided to move to Santa Fe in 1912, where Gerald could pursue a career as an artist, close to the subject matter that had earlier captivated him. His talents were soon recognized, as evidenced by a notice in the Santa Fe New Mexican:
“As a portrait painter, Gerald Cassidy, whose exhibit opened at the Palace of the Governors this week, is rapidly acquiring fame. He catches with rare cunning the spiritual light that reveals the soul. It is a wizardry of drawing, color and the indefinable something that men call genius whether it is manifested in poetry or in music or in painting. And Cassidy is among that few in whose pictures even the layman recognizes the touch of genius.”
During travel to Europe, Cassidy’s talent was recognized with invitations to exhibit, as well as purchases by the Berlin Museum and the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. During the Great Depression, Cassidy worked within the PWAP and created murals for the Federal Court House in Santa Fe. Tragically, the fumes that the artist inhaled during this project lead to his death.
Cassidy’s artworks are held in a number of important collections, including the Denver Art Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Panhandle–Plains Historical Museum, and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, the San Diego Museum of Man.
Refs.: Clinton Adams, Printmaking in New Mexico; Stacia Lewandowski, Light, Landscape and the Creative Quest: Early Artists of Santa Fe.