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Art Serving Grand Canyon Promotion
(after) AKIN, Louis (1868-1913) [American, c. 1906]
Untitled Chromolithograph of the El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon, Arizona, on the Santa Fe .
24 x 42 ½
18 x 37 inches, image; 24 x 42 ½ inches, frame. In original wooden frame with metal title plaque; minor chipping along edge, slight darkening, else excellent; original frame very good with the usual overall toning, light separation at miters, shrinkage.
A beautiful panoramic chromolithograph of the elegant El Tovar Hotel overlooking the Grand Canyon, dated 1906, the year after the hotel opened, and most likely published around that time. In its handsome, original frame with identifying brass plaque. The view takes in the hotel and an adobe pueblo with the canyon in the distance. In the foreground are a man on horseback and two Native American women, one carrying a baby. The colors are soft and muted, somewhat reminiscent of the 19th century French painter Corot. The original painting was commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway to promote tourism in the region.
Louis Akin was one of several artists commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway around the turn of the 20th century to promote the Grand Canyon as a tourist destination. The railroad provided travel and lodging and sometimes studio space to the artists and then purchased their canvases, which were sometimes exchanged for advertising and promotion. Some of the works, including this one, for which Akin is best known, were reproduced as chromolithographs, put in attractive frames, and distributed to offices, hotels and schools as advertising.
Akin was born in Oregon and received his training in art with William Merritt Chase and Frank DuMond. He is primarily associated with scenes of the American Southwest, especially Arizona, including Grand Canyon views and depictions of Hopi Indian life. Other paintings by him that were reproduced and marketed by the Santa Fe Railroad included The Oraibi Plaza and Storm over the Grand Canyon. After several years he returned to Oregon and found inspiration in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City commissioned him to do murals of Pueblo Native Americans for its Southwest Indian room. He was in Arizona working on this commission and related paintings when he fell ill and died in 1913.
The elegant El Tovar Hotel opened in 1905, built at a cost of $250,000. It was named for the Spanish conquistador Don Pedro de Tovar, who was an early Western explorer of the Grand Canyon. Today it is a Registered National Historic Landmark and continues to operate in the Grand Canyon National Park.
Antiques Road Show, Feb. 9, 2009: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200802A49.html.
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