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Lot 22: CURTIS, EDWARD S. (1868-1952) "Oasis in the Badlands."Platinum House
October 4, 2012
New York, NY, USALive Auction
CURTIS, EDWARD S. (1868-1952)
"Oasis in the Badlands." Platinum print, 17x21 inches (43.2x53.3 cm.), with Curtis's signature, in red pencil, on recto; in the original Curtis frame. 1905
An extremely rare, and possibly unique, oversized platinum print of one of Curtis's most iconic images. The photograph is displayed in the original, and highly desirable, Curtis Studio oak frame.
Of the 40,000 negatives Curtis produced for The North American Indian, approximately six images are definitively known to have been printed in platinum, in this special format. It is believed that platinum prints comprise less than 1% of Curtis's extant photographs, and that only one in a hundred were actually produced in this oversized format.
Curtis's stylized, red wax pencil signature is also extremely scarce. This wax pencil signature was used by Curtis for his "Master Exhibition Prints," which were created between 1905-1906, and suggests that this particular print may have been made the same year as the negative (1905).
Pictured is Red Hawk (Cheta'-luta), an important Sioux Chief, who fought General George Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Red Hawk achieved renown as a fierce warrior who engaged in more than 20 battles.
This print has been continuously in private hands for the past century, and was the property of one family for ninety years before being sold directly to a private collector several years ago. It has never before been offered at public auction or in the marketplace.