Lot Details

Portfolio VI, Plate 212
Paper Size: 18" x 22" (45.72cm x 55.88cm)
Image Size: 15.44" x 11" (39.21cm x 27.94cm)

The gallery retail for this photograph is $3,900.
Auction Estimate: $2,000-$3,000

This vintage photogravure is in overall excellent condition. There are two, very minor creases at the left margin of the print, 1"(25.4mm), visible upon close inspection. Watermark "VAN GELDER ZONEN MADE IN HOLLAND" in right margin of overmat. Excellent ink impression.

This original vintage photogravure is printed on Japanese Gampi (“tissue”). This is the rarest and most expensive of the three original etching stocks used by Curtis. Only J.P. Morgan and a few others paid the substantial premium to get the tissue edition. Tissue is noted for its subtlety, luminosity, and strength. This print has been professionally washed and de-acidified (a $300-$350 value) and will last for several hundred years, or more, if properly cared for.

"I like a man who attempts the impossible.” – J.P. Morgan

In 1900, Edward S. Curtis set out to document the history, spirituality, and culture of all intact Native American tribal groups. Curtis understood the urgency of his mission, as the Native American culture and way of life was rapidly disappearing. Before his project was completed in 1930,
Curtis had lost his money, his family, and his health in his single-minded devotion to completing his study which today still stands as a landmark in American publishing history.

In the end, each set of Curtis’ magnum opus, The North American Indian, contained more than 2,200 photographs and over 4,000 pages of written text. The North American Indian cost a staggering $37,000,000 to publish (in today’s dollars) and the resulting body of work is unequalled in the history of photography, publishing or ethnography. Curtis also, produced and directed a full-length feature film, lectured and exhibited extensively and made 10,000 Edison wax cylinder recordings of native songs, languages, and tribal histories.

Although he was championed by President Theodore Roosevelt and supported by J.P. Morgan, Curtis was largely forgotten by the time he finished the project. Today he has become one of the most widely published, exhibited, and collected photographers in the history of the medium. In the last five years alone his work has been the subject of over one hundred one-person exhibitions in over forty-five countries and on every continent but Antarctica. Curtis prints can be found in over one thousand public and private collections, including The Getty, MOMA, and The Met. Important private collections include those of Oprah Winfrey and George Lucas. Individual Curtis prints have sold for over $100,000 both at auction and privately and many prints now sell in the $10,000-50,000 range. Complete sets of The North American Indian can now bring $2,000,000 and above.

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Publication: The North American Indian (Portfolio VI Plate #212)
The seller has recorded the following condition for this lot:
Area: Margin
Location: Other location
Notes: This vintage photogravure is in overall excellent condition. There are two, very minor creases at the left margin of the print, 1"(25.4mm), visible upon close inspection. Watermark "VAN GELDER ZONEN MADE IN HOLLAND" in right margin of overmat. Excellent ink impression.
Degree: Minor

Definition Key
Image The central image area, composition, or focal point; the area inside the margins/plate marks.
Margin Areas bordering the central image, outside the plate marks, or the perimeter area.
Edge The farthest edge of the object.
Verso The reverse/back of the object.

Minor An existing condition which generally does not involve risk of loss.
Moderate Noticeable damage, increasing in severity and/or size; should be monitored or corrected by a conservator.
Major Distinct, recognizable damage; the stability of the work is questionable and risk is a factor. Requires the attention of a conservator.
Extreme Advanced and severe damage; work is insecure and at great risk.

  • Christopher Cardozo, St. Paul, Minnesota. NB: Christopher Cardozo is widely acknowledged as the world’s pre-eminent Curtis expert and collector. In his collecting, Cardozo has always placed great importance on print quality, print condition, and rarity, and seldomly have artworks from his personal collection come on the market. Thus, this vintage Curtis photograph has superb provenance and can be purchased with great confidence about its authenticity, quality, and condition. This photogravure print is from the original printing done by Curtis at the beginning of the last century. Most of Curtis’ vintage photogravures were incorporated into his magnum opus The North American Indian, complete sets of which now can sell for over two million dollars each. The purchaser will receive a formal Certificate of Authenticity with this print. This print is guaranteed to be original, vintage, and in excellent condition.
  • Pickup Location: Minnesota, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 22 x 18 in. (55.88 x 45.72 cm.)
Accepted: Wire Transfer
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