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Ernest Martin Hennings (1886-1956)
written by Robert Parsons
and Ashley Rolshoven
Ernest Martin Hennings Art Biography:
Hennings painting in Taos
Hennings said, "I have been working in Taos many years and I think that should prove that I like it here;
the country, the mountains with their canyons and streams, the sage beneath the clouded skies,
the adobe village with its Spanish people and of course the Taos Pueblo with its Indians.
Their life - domestic and agricultural - with all the color and romance of their dress and history."
He said: "New Mexico has almost made a landscape painter out of me, although I believe my strongest work is in figures."
"Art must of necessity be the artist's own reaction to nature and his personal style is governed by his temperament,
rather than by a style modeled through the intellect."
"It was rather strange that I chose painting for my profession, for practically none of my family showed artistic tendencies. It happened that when I was twelve or thirteen years old, another lad and myself wandered into the Art Institute of Chicago and it was during that visit that I was determined to become an artist. That day I secured a pamphlet that showed me that art could be studied. That had never occurred to me."
"In every picture I expect the Fundamentals to be observed, which I term—draftsmanship, design, form, rhythm, color."
"In figure subjects I think I find my greatest inspiration - subjects which you have grown to know from experience and subjects which the imagination brings forth..."
"Landscape plays so important a part of my work, and subjects of sage, mountain and sky. Nothing thrills me more, when in the fall, the aspen and cottonwoods are in color and with the sunlight playing across them - all the poetry and drama, all the moods and changes of nature are there to inspire one to greater accomplishment from year to year."
E. Martin Hennings first visited Taos in 1917 on a three month painting trip sponsored by Carter Harrison from his native Chicago. His art nouveau-inspired impressionism, often showing Taos indians riding through the aspens, has made his work one of the most sought-after of the Taos Society of Artists members.
Born to German immigrant parents, the Hennings family settled in Chicago when E. Martin was just an infant. The burgeoning lakeside city offered young boy an ideal setting in which to embark on his artistic path.
Consequently, Hennings enrolled in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1901-1906, and the firm foundation in drawing that the school provided remained a hallmark of Hennings' work. The artist first gained recognition as a freelance muralist and illustrator, but quickly tired of commercial art. In 1912, Hennings garnered a second place prize for a piece that he entered in the Prix de Rome. This success became the impetus to move to Munich to study at the Royal Academy. While in Europe, Higgins also met Walter Ufer and Victor Higgins, whom he would rejoin in Taos, NM, five years later.
Concerning John Henry Vanderpoel (1857-1911), Hennings teacher, he said, “He exercised the greatest influence on me during the impressionable and formative period of my life. I look back with reverence to Mr. Vanderpoel for the interest, help and guidance which he rendered to me when I was just beginning the study of art.”
During Hennings' return to Chicago he obtained the attention and financial sponsorship of art patron and former city mayor, Carter Harrison.
It was agreed that young artist would spend time in Taos, NM, in exchange for whatever paintings the artist could produce of the region. Hennings always stated that he preferred figure painting, although the landscape of Northern New Mexico proved irresistible and Taos helped to expand the painter's repertoire. In 1924 Hennings gained membership in the Taos Society of Artists, and found the scope of his exhibitions growing to include a broader, global market.
In Hennings' final years before his death in 1956, the artist completed a series of five paintings commissioned by the Santa Fe and Topeka railroads, to be used as calendars. It was a subtle reminder, perhaps, of the many gifts that came to pass through his hometown of Chicago.
According to his wishes, he is buried there.
Martin and Hellen Hennings on their wedding day
EM Hennings Highest Auction Prices
"Indian Summer" Price: $1,553,000
"STREAMSIDE" Price: $1,359,000
"Four Riders" Price: $1,102,500
"The Taos Twins" Price: $1,032,500
"AUTUMN ASPEN" Price: $701,500
"TAOS INDIANS HOMEWARD BOUND" Price: $659,000
"Across Taos Valley" Price: $601,000
"Indian Horsemen" Price: $528,750
"Riders in the foothills" Price: $512,000
"The Sheep Herder" Price: $511,750
"Through the Aspens" Price: $500,750
"Pueblo Village" Price: $500,000
Fine Art prices have risen steadily. Please contact the Gallery for the latest prices and current inventory.
Parsons does not offer Ernest Martin Hennings reproductions, because no reproduction can compare to the real paintings.
Parsons invites you to visit the Galleries to experience the unmatched beauty of the real art.
EM Hennings Signature Examples
Hennings only signed his work after he was satisfied with it.
Authentic signatures are only a part of certifying Traditional Fine Art.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Ernest Martin Hennings Timeline
Ernest Martin Hennings was also called E Martin Hennings or Martin Hennings.
Hennings was born in Penns Grove, New Jersey, on February 5, 1886.
In 1888 Hennings and his family moved to Chicago.
He was the son of German immigrant parents, growing up in Chicago.
Hennings schools included Munich Academy of Fine Arts, Royal Academy;
Palette and Chisel Academy, Chicago;
School of the Art Institute of Chicago;
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
From 1901 to 1904 he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating with honors in June 1904.
He continued to study at the Art Institute of Chicago for two more years under John Vanderpoel.
In 1912 he started studies at the Munich Academy in Germany.
There he met Walter Thor, a major influence for his growth.
In 1912 he began studying at the Royal Academy with Franz Von Stuck, the German proponent of Jugendstil.
In 1914 he became a member of the American Artists club in Munich, Germany, meeting Walter Ufer and Victor Higgins.
With the beginning of World War I in 1915, he moved back to to Chicago, working as a commercial artist and muralist.
He joined the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art.
In 1917, Carter Harrison and Oscar Mayer paid Hennings to travel to Taos, New Mexico and paint.
In 1921 Hennings began living full time in Taos.
In 1923 he was nominated to the Taos Society of Artists. He was elected in 1924 by unanimous vote.
In 1924, Hennings took up permanent residency in Taos, New Mexico.
In 1925 he met and married Helen Otte on July 20, 1926, who worked at the Chicago department store Marshall Field.
They honeymooned in Europe, spending 16 months in Italy, France, Spain, and Morocco.
In the 30s and 40s Hennings painted portraits part time in Houston, Texas.
His last works, paintings of the Navajo Reservation at Ganado, were for the Santa Fe Railroad Calendar.
He died May 19, 1956 and was buried in Chicago.
EM Hennings Major Awards
The Prix de Rome Prize
Gold Medal from the Palette and Chisel Club
The Englewood Women's Club prize at the Art Institute of Chicago
Exhibition at The National Academy of Design in New York City, New York (1917)
The Clyde M. Carr Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago (1922)
The Art Institute of Chicago Fine Arts Building Prize (1922)
The Martin B. Cahn Prize, from the Art Institute of Chicago, for his painting The Twins. (1923 )
The Walter Lippincott Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1925)
The lsidor Medal and the Ranger Fund Purchase prizes at the National Academy of Design in New York (1926)
The Harry Frank Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago (1927)
Exhibitions at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1928 and 1933)
Exhibition at The 1924 Venice Biennale
Exhibition at The International Exhibition in Paris in 1926
Exhibition at The Paris Salon (1927)
First prize, The Texas Wildflower Competition (1929)
Ernest Martin Hennings Exhibitions:
Art Institute of Chicago
Charles Russell Art Show
1928, 1932 Corcoran Gallery of Art Washington, DC
Edgar B Davis Competition, Texas
Exhibition of Art Association for Ernest Hennings
1926 International Exhibition Paris, France
1917 National Academy of Design NY
Palette & Chisel Club-Chicago
1922, 1925 Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Philaldelphia, PA
1924 Venice Biennale Venice, Italy
Ernest Martin Hennings Murals include:
The cafeteria at the Art Institute of Chicago
The Florentine Ballroom at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago
The Ascension, at the Grace Episcopal Cathedral in Topeka, Kansas
EM Hennings Major lithographs
"Across the Sage"
"The Frozen Stream"
"Through Sage and Cedar"
"Indian Bake Ovens"
"Beneath the Cottonwoods'
EM Hennings Museum Collections
Booth Western Art Museum
Carl S. Dentzel Collection
C.M. Russell Museum
Denver Art Museum
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
Harmsen Western Art Collection
John F Eulich Collection
Jonson Gallery of University of New Mexico
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of The Southwest
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
National Museum of Wildlife Art
New Mexico Museum of Art
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Santa Fe Railroad
Sangre De Cristo Arts Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Stark Museum of Art
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
The Harwood Museum of Art
The Harwood Museum of Art
Walter Bimson Western Art Collection
William Foxley Collection-Western
Ernest Martin Hennings Museum Collections On Line include:
"String The Bow" n.d. etching, 15 x 16 1/2 in.
Ernest Martin Hennings Awards
Please call the Gallery at (575) 751-0159 for current inventory or any questions