Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868 - 1952)

Lot 76002: EDWARD SHERIFF CURTIS (American, 1868-1952) Signal Fire

Heritage Auctions

November 10, 2012
Dallas, TX, US

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Description: EDWARD SHERIFF CURTIS (American, 1868-1952) Signal Fire to the Mountain Gods, 1912 Orotone 14 x 10-3/4 inches (35.6 x 27.3 cm) Signed in the plate Edward Curtis Studio label verso PROVENANCE: Private collection, Austin, Texas. NOTE: This lot maintains the original Curtis frame. {blockquote}Edward Curtis is best known for his extensive time documenting The North American Indian. Sometimes criticized for staging images, he strived to capture traditional practices and rituals of the American Indians rather than provide exact documentation of day to day routines. Heavily influenced by the Pictorialist movement, his prints are characteristically tonalist in style. Curtis amplified and mastered the image quality in his photogravures and orotones, going so far as to name the orotone process after himself, coining his prints 'Curt-Tones.' The four orotones offered here are still preserved in their original batwing frames. In The Old Well of Acoma, 1904, the gentle nature of the scene echoes images of his contemporaries in photography like many of the pieces published in Camera Works such as, Annie Brigman's, The Bubble, also showing a soft intimate scene of a woman gathering water. He was able to maintain these characteristics while still capturing some of the important historical aspects of the Acoma. The women gathering water highlights the once plentiful water supply at the Pueblo along with displaying the incredibly intricate geometric designs in the Acoma pottery sitting between them. Signal Fire to the Mountain Gods, from 1912, the same attention to tonality while representing the conceived relationship of the American Indian and their respect for the grandeur of the land. The Vanishing Race - Navaho, 1904, represents Curtis's sensitivity for composition, timing, and a romantically soft focus with warm tonal effect. The figures on horseback appear to drudgingly recede toward the horizon in single file, vanishing from the space of the photographic image just as their way of life was vanishing. {/blockquote}
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