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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

American, 1886 - 1956
Passing By
c. 1924
Oil on canvas

44 x 49 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Ranger Fund, National Academy of Design

Arts of North America

As tightly woven as a fine tapestry, Passing By shows people of the Taos Pueblo moving through a glade of cottonwoods in the brilliant autumn sun of the Southwest. The figures and landscape are integrated as one.

Exhibited in the 1924 Venice Biennale and the winner of the gold medal in the 1926 exhibition at New York’s National Academy of Design, Passing By is among the finest paintings produced by Taos Society artist E. Martin Hennings. The Taos Society of Artists was the first art colony established west of the Mississippi River, its roots going back to 1898. Following the development of railroad travel and tourism in the Southwest, artists rushed there and embraced Pueblo culture and the dramatic colors and topography of the desert region.

Shimmering like a golden screen shot through with vivid notes of blue, this painting presents a dramatic backdrop of aspen trees against which three Taos Pueblo Indians pass by as if in a timeless procession. All three men are wrapped in woven blankets and wear silver adornment, long braids, and modern clothing. In Passing By, Hennings presents a solemn, dignified image of an enduring native culture.