Art of the American West
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Edward S. Curtis (American, 1868–1952),
Little Hawk (Plate 89), Portfolio 3, Teton Sioux, Yanktonai, Assinaboin (sic), from The North American Indian , 1908
sepia photogravure, 22 x 18 in.; 55.88 x 45.72 cm
Gift of Esther Johnsen on behalf of the Johnsen family in memory of her husband, Johnny A. Johnsen, 1990.11.B.14

Curtis took over forty thousand photographs of Indian subjects, from house types to ritual dances. He was particularly adept at portraits. Here he uses the effects of light and shadow, sharp and blurred focus, and an upward-looking angle of view to convey great nobility and strength of character. The picture seems very personal, although Curtis captioned it by saying, “This portrait exhibits the typical Brulé [Lakota Sioux] physiognomy.” Portrait and caption together reflect the artistic and anthropological goals of Curtis’ Native American project.

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