Artwork of the Week: April 11, 2022
Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936), At the Spring (Sheep in Field), no date, watercolor, 10 1/2 x 16 1/16. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Joseph Riggio, 1976.
Eanger Irving Couse, best known for his Southwestern landscapes and portraits of the indigenous people in Taos, New Mexico, painted this peaceful pastoral scene sometime between 1891 and 1898 while visiting his in-laws’ Oregon sheep ranch. The endless verdant fields, wildflowers, pale yellow sunrise, and inclusion of lambs among the grazing flock suggest the beginning of a
warm spring day.
However, as Passover and Easter approach, this painting develops layers of religious meaning that can hardly be overlooked. Intimately connected by history and tradition, Passover and Easter celebrate the renewal of life and the gift of protection. Slowly look at this painting and consider the following symbols and their associated meaning:
1. Sheep. Characteristically gentle, sheep can recognize the voice of their shepherd.
2. Green. Announcing the arrival of spring after a long, barren winter, green is associated with new life, rebirth, and resurrection.
3. Light. Soft light from the rising sun suggests an opportunity to daily devote ourselves to The Son.
4. Water. The Savior is frequently described as a source of true and living water, one that His sheep with seek out.