Edward Curtis “Project to Photograph” Native American Prints
As seen on “Pawn Stars” a quintessential snapshot of American History! Thirty one prints of original photographs of Native Americans taken in the early 1900s by Edward S. Curtis, one of the most famous photographers of the time. In this project he set out to capture the rapidly vanishing tribes of North America. These were originally only obtainable via a very expensive subscription, and as such they only ended up in the households of the wealthy. Due to this rarity, a complete set of The North American Indian (only 222 complete sets were published) will cost you around $1 million dollars and five feet of shelf space! These prints are from different volumes with the original series numbers on back left hand corners. The prints are 12.5” x 9 ⅝” and the image size is 7.5” x 5.5”. Some are printed on Holland Van Gelder paper and others on Japanese Rice paper. These haunting and powerful images will make a fantastic addition to a collection of American History, make us an offer today!
Edward Curtis was an American photographer born on February 16, 1868, near Whitewater, Wisconsin. His studies of Native American people were an extremely important photographic and anthropological work. In 1887, he migrated to the Pacific Northwest to help break ground for a family homestead on the edge of Puget Sound. By the mid-1890s he had married and left home to found a successful photographic portrait studio in the burgeoning city of Seattle. His pictures of scenes from local Indian life helped make him one of the most famous photographers of his time. Curtis was extremely personable, and was appointed official photographer to railroad tycoon Edward Harriman’s Alaska Expedition of 1899. The contacts he made through Harriman helped Curtis as he began to seek funding for his Indian project. Curtis wanted to document all of the remaining Native tribes of North America and he had no time to lose — a recent census estimated the Native American population at 237,000, down from perhaps 10 million a few centuries earlier. Entire tribes, languages and traditions were disappearing.
The North American Indian, although credited totally to Curtis, was actually a collective product with other writers and academics. President Theodore Roosevelt wrote the foreward. When the first volume of The North American Indian appeared in 1907, it was hailed as a literary and artistic masterpiece. The New York Herald described it as “the most ambitious enterprise in publishing since the production of the King James Bible.” His ultimately successful efforts resulted in The North American Indian, 20 volumes of illustrated text accompanied by 20 portfolios of large photogravures . It was published from 1907-1930.
Many Native Americans worked on the project as well, including Alexander B. Upshaw (Crow), who worked on the northern Plains volumes. Other noteworthy contributors were George Hunt (Tlingit-Scottish), on the Northwest Coast; Charlie Day, son of a trading family that had intermarried into the Navajo community of the Southwest; and Henry B. Allen (Skokomish), who helped out in Washington state. Curtis took thousands of photographs for The North American Indian—predominantly portraits but also landscapes, still lifes, scenes of everyday life, and more. Although Curtis said he strove for accuracy, very many images depict people who were actually reconstructing ways of life that had died out. Despite this, the majority of the pictures are profoundly respectful of Native American people, presenting them and their varied cultures with dignity and pride. Commonplace items were arranged to draw viewers’ attention to their craftsmanship and beauty; photographs of baskets, for example, reveal the tightness of weave and the intricacy of their patterning. Frequently Curtis’s human subjects are so powerfully present in the picture that they seem to return the observer’s gaze.
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