CUSTOMER SERVICE:  Subscribe Now | Pay Bill | Place Ad | Contact Us   
    El Paso Times  Weather  Calendar  Jobs  Cars  Real Estate  Apartments  Shopping  Classifieds  Dating  Wednesday, January 11, 2006   
 
    Local  Nation/World  Sports  Business  Entertainment  Living  Opinion  Obituaries  Neighborhoods  Education  Military 
Local
Vote 2006
Glory Road
e-Technology
Frontpage.pdf
Tip line
7-day archive
News archive
Faces & Places
Forum
Photos of the week
Calendar
Contact lawmakers
Recycling sites
Veterans' meetings
Texas lottery
Star lighter
Water conservation
News
Local
Nation/World
Sports
Business
Entertainment
Living
Opinion
Obituaries
Neighborhoods
Education
Military

Border painter's life a mystery

Louie Gilot
El Paso Times
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A visitor from California came to see one of the most popular paintings at the El Paso Museum of Art on Tuesday and to ponder the mysteries surrounding its creator.

The painting is "View of El Paso, Texas, 1885," by Leon Trousset, a Frenchman, a prolific painter and an avid traveler who left a trail of oil paintings and sketches of early border life throughout the Southwest and northern Mexico.

The visitor was Tracy Trousset, who married Trousset's great-grandson and became fascinated with the Trousset -- pronounced "troo-say" -- history, or lack of it.

The painting shows a view of El Paso from what is now Downtown Juárez and what was then an idyllic rural setting traveled by a wandering donkey. On the other side of the river, El Paso was a growing urban sprawl sliced through by a brand-new locomotive -- the railroad arrived in El Paso in 1881.

Tracy Trousset, who commissioned a reproduction of the painting for her Hemet, Calif., home years ago, set eyes on the original for the first time Tuesday.

"This is my favorite. The beauty and the details," she said.

For El Paso, the oeuvre is a historical document.

It sheds light on the crucial period when El Paso transformed from a sleepy town to one connected by rail to the national economy.

"It's one of three paintings of El Paso in the 19th century at the museum. We use it a lot on school tours to talk about how the city has developed," said Ben Fyffe, the interim head of education at the museum.

The painting was on the cover of the 2001 Southwestern Bell El Paso telephone directory. Other Trousset works adorn the jacket covers of historical books, and one scene, a view of old Mesilla, is in the Smithsonian collection in Washington, D.C.

"View of El Paso" is a gift to the museum from retired El Paso lawyer J. Sam Moore Jr. who bought it at auction from Sotheby's in 1997, narrowly winning the bid over an Austin collector.

For the past eight or nine years, Moore, Tracy Trousset and others have been corresponding and discussing the life of a man who left no journal, just three cryptic poems.

When and where was he born? How did he get to the United States? What motivated him to paint the unglamorous border?

"We'd love to know," said R.B. Brown, an adjunct professor of anthropology at UTEP.

Just as Trousset paintings keep popping up -- Brown found one in Mazatlan during his Christmas vacations there -- Brown believes new information will surface.

The first trace of Trousset was a sketch of Fort Inge, Texas, in 1867. And the last was his death certificate that Brown found in Juárez a few months ago. It was dated 1917. He was in his 30s when he painted "View of El Paso."

Tracy Trousset has scrutinized the Trousset paintings and poems for clues.

"He was a very religious man. Almost every painting has a mission on it. He also did some work commissioned by churches in California. The poems seem very religious as well," she said.

The poems also show a longing for his native land, including this line, "alone, lost without a homeland." Such lines make Tracy Trousset suspect that her family's ancestor had been somehow forced into exile.

Officials at the El Paso Museum of Art pointed out that the strong composition in "View of El Paso" hints at some formal artistic training in France.

Brown said Trousset used to raffle off his paintings in saloons, such as the Acme Saloon in El Paso, selling $1 tickets, then often buying the paintings back from the winner, to sell them again later. They would fetch $40 to $60 at a time, Brown said. "View of El Paso" was valued at $34,500 when it was sold eight years ago.

After the El Paso viewing, Tracy Trousset, Moore and Brown headed to the Centro Municipal de Artes in Juárez to see a portrait of Padre Hidalgo by Trousset, to the museum of the Ex-Aduana for an exhibit of Trousset works, and to meet with Jorge Alvarez, the Juárez city manager and a Trousset collector.

Louie Gilot may be reached at lgilot@elpasotimes.com; 546-6131.



Victor Calzada / El Paso Times
El Paso Museum of Art interim head of education Ben Fyffe and Tracy Trousset talked Tuesday about the painting by 19th-century artist Leon Trousset.

Timeline

  • 1867: Leon Trousset draws a sketch of Fort Inge, Texas.
  • 1880s: Trousset spends some time in California with artists known as the French Bohemians.
  • 1885: Trousset paints "View of El Paso." A notice in the El Paso Daily Times, Jan. 23, 1885, may refer to the painting. It read, "A fine oil painting of El Paso, the work of Leon Frousset (sic), will be raffled at the Acme Saloon: 60 chances, one dollar each. Let everybody see it."
  • 1917: Trousset dies in Juárez.
  • 1997: Retired El Paso lawyer J. Sam Moore Jr. buys "View of El Paso" at Sotheby's and donates it to the El Paso Museum of Art.

    Tips on Trousset

  • Do you have historical information on French painter Leon Trousset? Please call J. Sam Moore Jr. at 546-8229.



  • Local news
  • Desmantelan red de tráfico de indocumentados
  • C-USA play begins today
  • Mesita expansion painful
  • Plan to fix streets will raise taxes
  • Population growth
  • Your guide to today, tomorrow and beyond
  • Restaurant chief touts clout
  • Fried rice is a fast, tasty meal option
  • Campaña artística para exhibir su arte
  • For Buffalo, the pain never leaves
  • Democratic candidates won't visit EP until February
  • Market grows for children's services
  • Tax lines
  • 10-year-old with tumor encouraged at school
  • Lento crecimiento en El Paso
  • Rams roll to win
  • EPISD approves contract for new superintendent
  • Letters published in El Paso Times
  • Donan alimentos a los indigentes
  • Airwaves
  • El Paso, un “polvorín”, advierten los bomberos
  • Bienvenida a otro evacuado de Katrina
  • Lose holiday weight with good food
  • Correction
  • Rarity makes diamonds of color quite valuable
  • Council urged to make nice with Army over Castner Range
  • FBI trains agencies to spot, fight piracy
  • Cold snap helps trees set clocks for spring
  • Robbers hit three shops
  • Lottery
  • school menus
  • star lighter
  • Estrellas de la Semana: Spencer Parra
  • Escasean los maestros
  • Reubican a los vendedores ambulantes
  • Border painter's life a mystery
  • Elimine las toxinas este año nuevo
  • Canutillo High students navigate new digs
  • Arte del corazón
  • Blaze believed to be started by vagrants
  • « CLASSIFIED PARTNERS »
    Jobs: CareerBuilder.com Cars: Cars.com Real Estate: HomeFinder.com Apartments: Apartments.com Shopping: ShopLocal.com Dating: eHarmony.com
    Copyright © 2006 El Paso Times, a MediaNews Group Newspaper.
    Use of this site signifies that you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.