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VALLEY FINE ART Classic American Art: 1865 - Present

Through the Lens of

Edward S. Curtis


Cover: “Plate 208 A Piegan Dandy,” 1900

“Plate 218 Waiting in the Forest,” 1910, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japanese Tissue, 22 x 18 inches


“The North American Indian” by Edward S. Curtis Born in 1868, Edward Sherriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists when his gift for photography led him to an investigation of the Indians living on the Seattle waterfront. Under the patronage of J.P. Morgan and with the encouragement of President Theodore Roosevelt, Curtis’ project, “The North American Indian,” required 30 painstaking years of photographing and documenting the more than eighty tribes west of the Mississippi, from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. This task quickly became one of the most expensive undertakings in the history of book production and one of the most comprehensive ethnographic records of the native tribes of North America. Upon its completion in 1930, his work consisted of 20 volumes, containing 1172 hand-pressed photogravures and 4000 pages of written text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio containing at least 36 large photogravures in each portfolio, 722 in total. Curtis’ work stands as a monumental photo-ethnographic publishing project and an unrivaled masterpiece of visual anthropology. His images remain indelible in the American consciousness.


“Canon Del Muerto – Navaho,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 14 x 11 inches


“An Oasis in the Badlands,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 11 x 14 inches

Goldtones Edward S. Curtis perfected the medium regarded as Goldtone or Orotone to the extent that he eventually named these images after himself calling them “Curt-Tones.” Most photographic prints are a positive image on paper. The Curt-Tone process Curtis used was created by taking a clear plate of optical glass and spreading a liquid emulsion onto the surface of the plate. Curtis then projected his negative onto the glass to create a positive image. The highlights and shadows could not be seen unless there was some type of backing on the image. He mixed a combination of banana oils and bronzing powders to create a sepia or a goldtone effect, and then spread this mixture onto the dried emulsion. The final process involved backing the glass image so that all the chemicals bonded together. The brilliance of the gold reflecting through the glass gave the Curt-Tone a truly three-dimensional quality with an aura unmatched by any other photographic process. When Edward S. Curtis was asked to describe the Curt-Tone process he said: “The ordinary photographic print, however good, lacks depth and transparency, or more strictly speaking, translucency. We all know how beautiful are the stones and pebbles in the limpid brook of the forest where water absorbs the blue of the sky and the green of the foliage, yet when we take the same iridescent pebbles from the water and dry them they are dull and lifeless, so it is with orthodox photographic print, but in the Curt-Tones all the translucency is retained and they are as full of life and sparkle as an opal.”


Clockwise from Upper Left: “Signal Fire to the Mountain Gods,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 10 x 8 inches; “Vanishing Race – Navaho,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 11 x 14 inches; “The Storm – Apache,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 11 x 14 inches; “The Fisherman – Wishham,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 14 x 11 inches


“Canon de Chelly – Navaho,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 8 x 10 inches

The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other; consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time. —Edward S. Curtis

“At the Old Well of Acoma,” Vintage Goldtone, Image Size: 11 x 14 inches


PORTFOLIO IMAGES

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“Plate 636 The Blackfoot Country,” 1908, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japanese Tissue, 18 x 22 inches


Top: “Plate 249 Kutenai Duck Hunter,” 1910, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Deluxe Japanese Tissue, 18 x 22 inches; Bottom (left to right): “Plate 545 Lahla (‘Willow’) – Taos,” 1905, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Deluxe Japanese Tissue, 22 x 18 inches; “Plate 255 Rush Gatherer – Kutenai,” 1910, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japon Vellum, 22 x 18 inches


“Plate 17 An Apache Babe,” 1903, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 22 x 18 inches


“Plate 640 Bear Bull – Blackfoot,” 1927, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 22 x 18 inches


Top: “Plate 633 Painted Tipi – Assiniboin,” 1926, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Deluxe Japanese Tissue, 18 x 22 inches; Bottom: “Plate 188 In a Piegan Lodge,” 1910, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 18 x 22 inches


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“Plate 207 Piegan Encampment,” 1900, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 18 x 22 inches


VOLUME IMAGES

“Camp Gossips - Atsina,” 1908, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japanese Tissue, 12.5 x 9.5 inches


Top (left to right): “Pele – Tewa,” 1921, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; “Spotted Elk – Brule,” 1907, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; Bottom: “Huka-Lowapi, the Altar Complete,” 1907, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 9.5 x 12.5 inches


Top (left to right): “A Hopi Mother,” 1906, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japon Vellum, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; “Awaiting the Return of the Snake Racers,” 1921, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; Bottom: “Custer’s Crow Scouts,” 1907, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 9.5 x 12.5 inches


“Hano and Walpi Girls Wearing Atoo,” 1921, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japon Vellum, 12.5 x 9.5 inches


“Joseph – Nez Perce,” Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japanese Tissue, 12.5 x 9.5 inches


Top: “Cree Fishing Camp,” 1926, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japon Vellum, 9.5 x 12.5 inches; Bottom (left to right): “Little Dog – Brule,” 1907, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; “Chahall – Nunivak,” 1928, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches


“Hamasilahl – Qagyuhl,” 1914, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Japon Vellum, 12.5 x 9.5 inches


Top (left to right): “Calico – Ogalala,” Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; “Mother and Child,”1905, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 12.5 x 9.5 inches; Bottom: “Sons of a Yakima Chief,” 1910, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 9.5 x 12.5 inches


VALLEY FINE ART Classic American Art: 1865 - Present

Documenting Change in America Across Three Centuries

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“Plate 206 Iron Breast, Piegan,” 1900, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Deluxe Japanese Tissue, 22 x 18 inches

“Plate 101 Black Eagle – Assiniboin,” 1908, Vintage Photogravure, Paper Type: Dutch Van Gelder, 22 x 18 inches

Edward S. Curtis - Valley Fine Art  

Born in 1868, Edward Sherriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists when his gift for photography led him to...

Edward S. Curtis - Valley Fine Art  

Born in 1868, Edward Sherriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists when his gift for photography led him to...

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