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Edward Sheriff Curtis (American, 1868–1952)
LOT ID: 55429
An Oasis in the Badlands - Sioux, 1905

Photogravure, Japanese Vellum
15.88 х 19.75 in. (40.34 x 50.16 cm.)
Plate signed, below image, center.
Print/Casting Year 1908
Foundry/Publisher John Andrew & Son / The North American Indian Inc.
Lot description
Artist: Edward S. Curtis
Title: An Oasis in the Badlands - Sioux
Medium: Photogravure, Japanese Vellum
Portfolio III, Plate 80
Print Size: 15.88" x 19.75" (40.3cm x 50.1cm)
Image Size: 8.75" x 15.63" (22.2cm x 39.7cm)

The gallery retail for this photograph is $60,000
Price Estimate: $40,000 - $50,000

This classic Curtis image was made in the heart of the renowned Badlands of South Dakota. The subject is Red Hawk, the Dakota sub-chief who was born 1854. He participated in his first war party in 1865, with Crazy Horse, against U.S. army troops. He was a fierce warrior and ultimately engaged in 20 battles, including the Custer fight in 1876. Red Hawk is majestic as he sits astride his white stallion, while it drinks from a small pool on a vast prairie in the Badlands. He wears a full war bonnet of eagle feathers, a beautifully beaded and fringed war-shirt, beaded leggings, and heavily beaded moccasins. He carries a carbine and his horse wears large eagle feathers both on its mane and forelock. The image and the subject project an unusual combination of strength and calmness in the dramatic, iconic landscape.
This print is made in the photogravure photographic process, printed on hand-made Vellum etching stock. Photogravure was an expensive hand-printing process considered to be “the king of print processes”. This lyrical image is widely considered to be Curtis’ most important and beautiful Great Plains landscape. The compelling composition and subject matter still make this one of Curtis’ most sought-after images, more than one hundred years after it was made. This 8 3/4” x 16 5/8”(22.2cm x 39.7cm) photogravure print is in very good overall condition and has a delicate, open, luminous quality. This print has an illustrious exhibition history: it was a highlight of the only Curtis exhibition ever held in Curtis’ birthplace (Whitewater, Wisconsin) as well as an award winning Curtis exhibition in Columbus, Ohio.

This vintage Vellum photogravure is in very good overall condition. All four margins were trimmed (a total of approximately 2" in each direction) not effecting the image or plate impression. There are also several minor flaws, not atypical of large format vintage photogravures: minor area of surface rubbing in the lower print margin, primarily visible in raking light. A very minor crease in the upper right portion of the image, visible only in raking light, and moderate discoloration at the upper and left print margins, not effecting the image. Watermark "Van Gelder Zonen Made in Holland" in lower margin of vintage overmat. Excellent impression, and a fine example of the photogravure process. This photogravure was professionally washed and de-acidified to restore it to its original archival state and beauty.

This original vintage photogravure is printed on Japanese Vellum. This is an expensive handmade paper specifically selected by Curtis and J.P. Morgan for Curtis’ North American Indian project and noted for its smooth surface and fine resolution. The Vellum stock, produced one hundred years ago, is very resistant to contamination and damage and rarely requires conservation.

This vintage photograph is from the personal collection of Christopher Cardozo (“The Christopher G. Cardozo/Edward S. Curtis Collection”)

Edward Curtis is the most widely collected fine art photography in the history of the medium, and his work is found in major public and private collections internationally. He has also become the most widely exhibited. His work has moved viewers on every continent but Antarctica. He created an unprecedented body of work, which has won awards and accolades internationally. While the project nearly drove him into bankruptcy and cost him his health and family, today the aggregate value of the photographs he created exceeds one half of a billion dollars. Please see biography link above for further details.
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