Ernest Martin Hennings1886 - 1956
Born: February 5, 1886, Pennsgrove, New Jersey
Died: May 29, 1956
Hennings spent his childhood in Chicago and often visited and later attended the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating in 1904, Hennings worked as a commercial artist, muralist, and book illustrator. In 1912 he traveled to Europe and studied under Franz Von Stuck and Angelo Junk at the Royal Academy in Munich, Germany. Hennings returned to Chicago in 1914 and resumed commercial work until former mayor of Chicago Carter H. Harrison, Jr., offered to buy one of his paintings under the condition that Hennings traveled to Taos, New Mexico, and become acquainted with the local art community. Harrison instigated similar deals with Hennings' friends William Ufer and Victor Higgins. Arriving in Taos in 1917, the landscapes, Native Americans, and wildlife of Taos immediately inspired Hennings. He permanently settled there in 1921, the same year he became the youngest and penultimate member of the Taos Society of Artists. Hennings worked on many commissions, including paintings of the Navajo Indians in the Rio Grande area for the Santa Fe Railroad.
In the National Museum of Wildlife Art's Deer Among the Aspens, three deer, seen through the trees, are alerted by the viewer's presence. The trees create a distinct pattern, which divides the canvas, thus emphasizing its two-dimensionality. Hennings' paintings are technically sophisticated and demonstrate a linear and decorative style influenced by Art Nouveau and Japanese wood block prints. His vibrant colors were directly inspired by the bright, natural light of Taos.
Hennings won many awards, including a Gold Medal from the Palette and Chisel Club, the Isidor Gold Medal and the Ranger Purchase Award from the National Academy of Design, the Englewood Women's Club Prize from the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Walter Lippincott Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His work is recognized in many private collections and museums, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Gilcrease Institute, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.