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“The Gift”, a historic pastel on paper painting by William Penhallow Henderson, Santa Fe, c. 1920

ex: William Penhallow Henderson estate collection, Santa Fe, NM

This painting is a beautiful small jewel by one of Santa Fe’s finest and most highly-esteemed historic artists.

William Penhallow Henderson (1877-1943), Henderson was a superb colorist who captured the look and feel and unique intensity of light in Santa Fe like no other. An artistic polymath, Henderson was equally adept and excelled

at painting, drawing, architecture and furniture making. He and his prominent poet wife, Alice Corbin Henderson were also equally adept at and passionately devoted to Santa Fe’s historic and artistic preservation and promotion.

This lovely pastel is a perfect early Santa Fe picture depicting a young hispanic woman traditionally dressed in a black manta cloak carrying a gift of a beautiful potted flowering plant against a majestic, color-drenched backdrop of Santa Fe’s rolling piñon and juniper tree covered foothills with the towering peaks of the nearby Sangre de Cristo mountains framed by Santa Fe’s famous clear blue skies in the background.

The original Santa Fe home of William Penhallow Henderson and Alice Corbin Henderson

on Camino del Monte Sol in Santa Fe is listed on the National Register of historic places.


"William Penhallow Henderson and his wife Alice Corbin Henderson were founders and principal members of the local art community. Their home, built from 1917 through 1928 in the Spanish Pueblo Revival Style, served as a model for other homes built by members of Santa Fe’s growing art colony. Gradually, other artists and writers settled around the Hendersons’ home on Camino del Monte Sol (Road of the Sun Mountain), becoming a prominent enclave for the Santa Fe art colony.

In addition to his accomplishments as a painter, Henderson was a lay architect whose commissions included building the White sisters’ compound El Delirio (now the School for Advanced Research) on Garcia Street; the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art (now the Wheelwright Museum), in the form of a Navajo hogan; the Santa Fe Railroad ticket office on the Santa Fe Plaza; the Roque Lobato House on Bishops Lodge Road; the Edwin Brooks House on Canyon Road; the Fremont Ellis House, also on Canyon Road; and the Albert Schmidt Residence in Tesuque."

Text source and © "Old Santa Fe Today" by Audra Bellmore with photographs by Simone Frances, courtesy of The Historic Santa Fe Foundation

William Penhallow Henderson in Santa Fe, c. 1920’s

Photo source and © William Penhallow Henderson Papers,

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The painting is done in rich, thickly-applied pastel on dark grey artist’s paper and measures 4 1/4" in height and 6"

in width (sight). It is nicely and archivally matted and framed under archival conservation glass in a white gold and gold-colored metal leaf frame. The back of the painting tells an interesting and historic story too. The various

labels affixed there indicate that the painting was part of the original William Penhallow Estate Collection, that is to say the artist’s own personal collection at the time of his death in 1943 after which it passed into and through the hands of several distinguished Santa Fe galleries; Munson Gallery, Owings-Dewey Fine Art and finally the pre-eminent Nedra Matteucci Gallery from whom it was acquired by us. Both painting and frame are in excellent original condition and is so fresh it almost looks as if it was painted yesterday. The painting is unsigned as are the vast majority of Henderson's works. The 1970's-80's era vintage framing is in fairly good condition with some small chips to the wood corners. The framed dimensions of the painting as presently framed are 12" height by 15" width.

This picture is a very sweet old Santa Fe gem, an eloquent reminder of a now largely bygone gracious era here

and a unique artistic and historic work fully worthy of any collection, public or private, anywhere.

Price available upon request


From the placement of the figure, it appears that she is walking down the Camino del Monte Sol (Road to the Sun Mountain) at the foot of the nearby Sun Mountain where the artist and his wife made their home (see below) and studio after moving to Santa Fe from chicago in 1916. The picture carries a mystery of sorts; is the young woman bringing

the gift to someone or has she just received the gift from someone? In either case, the depiction is just stunning; intensely saturated in a high-key color palette and imbued with an enduring sense of time and place and ancient culture. It is almost as if time has stopped to preserve this beautiful moment and of course in a sense it has and

here it is preserved forever. We have lived in Santa Fe for many years and know well the look and feeling of iconic beautiful santa fe days like this one and in our opinions henderson has captured it perfectly here, conveying the sense and feel in an even more heightened, dramatic and beautiful manner than it actually was.