Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)

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Edward S. Curtis - Plate 026 A Chief of the Desert - Navaho border=
Plate 026 A Chief of the Desert - Navaho
Portfolio, 22 x 18 inches
Vintage Photogravure
Edward Curtis’ description: “Picturing not only the individual but a characteristic member of the tribe - disdainful, energetic, self-reliant.”
Interestingly, the historical Navaho had evolved into the farming Navaho, which produced a very different lifestyle. This particular tribe was very accomplished at living productively, and were economically sound. Eventually the livelihood included herding cattle and sheep; and that provide them with material to barter outside the reservation.

From Volume 1, Introduction “… a keeper of flocks and herds who asks nothing of the Government but to be unmolested in his pastoral life and in the religion of his forebears.”

Edward Curtis photographer and Edward Curtis the artist must have directed this man’s gaze. His portraiture exemplifies the desire to capture, within the person, the life and character of this Navaho. The dark backdrop is his tent wall and the directional lighting from the top left comes through an innovative flap in the top.

Many of his portraits were made in this manner.
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