New Mexico Art Tells its History

Portrait of Dieguito Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo

Portrait of Dieguito Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1916
Robert Henri (American, 1865 - 1929)
oil on canvas, 65 3/8 x 48 7/8 in. (166.1 x 124.1 cm)
Gift of Robert Henri, 1916

Robert Henri (Cozad) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Denver with his family where he was educated in the Denver public schools. A year after his father was indicted for manslaughter; the Cozads changed their name and fled to Atlantic City, New Jersey. His art studies were at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and in Paris at Ecole des Beaux Arts, travelling back and forth from Europe to America to study and paint. Settling in Philadelphia in the 1890’s, he met other young newspaper illustrators who would later achieve fame as members of The Eight. In 1900, moving to New York to teach at the New York School of Art, he began rejecting the genteel traditions of academic painting and impressionism he had learned. Instead, he turned his attention to urban realist subjects executed in a bold, painterly style for which he is known. In 1910 he organized the first "Exhibition of Independent Artists," he later arranged jury-free exhibitions at the MacDowell Club, and in 1913 he helped the Association of American Painters and Sculptors organize the famous Armory Show. Henri taught at the Art Students League from 1915 until 1927. Henri was responsible for persuading the Museum's founding director, Edgar Lee Hewett, to offer space for artists to exhibit their work in New Mexico without having to compete for a juror's approval.

Dieguito Roybal (Potsonutse in Tewa) was a tribal leader and rain priest from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Henri painted Dieguito Roybal as he drummed and chanted during a rehearsal for the Eagle Dance, prior to a performance on the patio of the Palace of the Governors for the Santa Fe Fiesta.

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