Donald Beauregard painted the Southwest with an expert's touch

Donald Beauregard painted the Southwest with a Parisian and Impressionist touch

“Utah Landscape,” Donald Beauregard, 1914, oil on canvas, 31⅛×38⅛ inches, collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art, gift of the Honorable Frank Springer, 1925. (Courtesy of Blair Clark/The New Mexico Museum of Art)

Years before Los Cinco Pintores elevated Santa Fe into an art colony, an artist from Utah painted the Southwest in a veil of European modernism.

Donald Beauregard designed the murals inside the New Mexico Museum of Art, studied in Paris and absorbed the experimental styles of Cézanne and Gauguin.

He was one of the first artists recruited by New Mexico Museum of Art director Edgar Lee Hewett. The museum owns some 180 of his paintings.

But nobody knows him.

Opening Feb. 25, an exhibition of 40 works surveys Beauregard’s short but ambitious career in “An American in Paris: Donald Beauregard.”

Current Museum of Art director and exhibit curator Mark White began researching the artist when he joined the institution in 2020. His introduction to the painter came when he saw Beauregard’s murals inside St. Francis Auditorium.

“He’s essentially a Mormon kid from a small town in Utah,” White said. Hewett encouraged attorney and Santa Fe booster Frank Springer to become Beauregard’s patron by sending him to Paris to study at the prestigious Académie Julian for two years. The artist traveled to Spain, and Brittany, France, where he studied the seaside commune of Douarnenez.

In the late 19th century, numerous modern artists, including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Sérusier, left the urban environs of Paris seeking inspiration among the rural Catholic communities to the south, particularly Douarnenez.

Instruction focused on drawing live models, studying plaster casts of antique sculpture, and imitating the masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Despite this historical grounding, Beauregard felt the draw of Impressionism, with its fluid brushwork and attention to the transitory effects of shadow and light.

His unique style blended the innovations of Paul Cézanne, Gauguin and van Gogh, as well as the early works of Henri Matisse and German Expressionism.

“He was constantly on the latest element of modernism,” White said. “In 1912, for an American artist, he was very much on the vanguard. Few were producing such exceptional work.”

“Portrait of an Artist,” (1912), reflects the painterly strokes and subtle coloration of Cézanne, as well as the Impressionists. The subject dresses in attire common to Paris art students.

“That’s actually my favorite,” White said. “We do not know who that is. He seems to be a fellow student. Here he takes the part of the stroller (a flânuer) in the streets of Paris.”

The flânuer observed everything in experience with intellectual curiosity, just as an artist might, and was usually identified with the streets of Paris.

The painting was likely produced in Douarnenez, White said.

“It’s a tour-de-force of everything he picked up in Paris. If Beauregard had a masterpiece, this is probably it.”

The artist adopted many of the trappings of Impressionism by cropping the composition to exclude parts of the scene, just as a photograph might, and by leaving a large amount of empty, negative space in the foreground.

In “Utah Landscape,” (1914), Beauregard offers a light-flecked, Impressionist vision of the Southwest. The artist likely painted the scene in the southern part of the state before his second trip to Europe in 1911. The spare light of allowed him to use swaths of blue in the shadows of the middle ground, a technique often employed by the French Impressionists.

In “Auvergne,” (c. 1912), he takes on van Gogh, splashed with wide brushstrokes in the village behind two peasant women. He uses a deliberately naive style to express his engagement with the rustic scene.

“These are the women of Douarnenez,” White said. “Brittany remains kind of rural, staunchly Catholic. The women became very known for those hats.”

The lace chapeaus known as coiffées varied from village to village, so that locals could identify the wearer’s origins.

“Rue Royale, Paris,” Donald Beauregard, circa 1910, oil on canvas, 23½x18⅞ inches, collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art, gift of the Honorable Frank Springer, 1925. (Courtesy of Blair Clark/The New Mexico Museum of Art)

Beauregard’s street scene “Rue Royale, Paris” (c. 1910), was painted near the Académie Julian.

The artist returned to the U.S. to complete a mural for the New Mexico building at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. The mural cycle would explore the history of St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Order, culminating in an allegorical celebration of the arts and culture of Santa Fe.

Beauregard never finished it. He died of stomach cancer at age 29 in 1914.

Art historian and Native arts champion Kenneth Chapman and painter Carlos Vierra finished the mural for installation in the museum’s St. Francis Auditorium.

“This is the kind of artist that Hewett thought was the epitome of the Santa Fe art colony,” White said. “A lot of the best known (such as Will Shuster, Fremont Ellis, Walter Mruk, Jozef Bakos and Willard Nash, known as Los Cinco Pintores,) had not arrived yet. He was professionally trained in Europe, he was experimental. (Hewett) really believed Beauregard was where the city should go.”

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Donald Beauregard painted the Southwest with a Parisian and Impressionist touch

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
'The Lost Archive' a collection of enjoyable realistic, historical ...
ABQnews Seeker
These 22 short stories, some previously ... These 22 short stories, some previously published, demonstrates writing that is crisp, smart, accessible and engaging.
PBS documentary looks at the life of solar power ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Sun Queen" airs at 8 ... "The Sun Queen" airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.1, and is broadcast under the American Experience series. ...
Canna fairly easy to grow, come in wide varieties
ABQnews Seeker
The canna will want soil that ... The canna will want soil that can retain some moisture, but won't do too well if sitting in a puddle either.
New Mexico Photographic Art Show brings 188 works to ...
ABQnews Seeker
The 14th annual New Mexico Photographic ... The 14th annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show runs through April 18, in the Fine Arts Building at Expo New Mexico with work by ...
'Important Works on Paper' covers the span of Picasso's ...
ABQnews Seeker
Santa Fe's LewAllen Galleries is showcasing ... Santa Fe's LewAllen Galleries is showcasing Pablo Picasso's prints in "Celebrating Picasso's Legacy: Important Works on Paper" through May 6.
New Mexico author Melody Groves wins Spur Award with ...
ABQnews Seeker
Melody Groves has written 13 books. ... Melody Groves has written 13 books. One of the most recent, "Before Billy the Kid," received a Spur Award for biography.
Poet Pat Mora to deliver New Mexico Writers dinner ...
ABQnews Seeker
On April 6, the fifth annual ... On April 6, the fifth annual New Mexico Writers dinner will once again celebrate the immense talent, established and aspiring, that reside in the ...
$4 million proposed for a new Unser Museum
ABQnews Seeker
Museum allocations are a point of ... Museum allocations are a point of contention as Albuquerque leaders wrangle over how to spend $200M in expected infrastructure money
NMMNHS exhibit showcases the world of microscopic photography
ABQnews Seeker
The New Mexico Museum of Natural ... The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science is presenting the premier celebration of microscopic photography, as "Nikon Small World" runs through April ...