Edward Sheriff Curtis (American, 1868-1952) Vanishing Race — Navajo, circa 1904 orotone signed in negative lower right, Curtis no. 984, held in original Curtis Studio frame 10 1/2" x 13 1/4"
Literature: This print was later published as a photogravure in: Curtis, Edward Sheriff, The North American Indian, The University Press, 1907-1930, supplement, v. 1, pl. 1.
Catalog Note: Curtis' wide variety of silver prints were most frequently goldtones or orotones, sometimes called "Curt-tones." These comprise less than half of one percent of his extant work. In size, they range from 4" x 5", called a salesman's sample, to 18" x 22". The larger sizes are quite rare. Based on current data, goldtones used a gelatin silver emulsion, which was suspended on glass (versus paper), and after development were backed with gold-hued bronzing powders. Curtis' goldtone prints are almost always framed in one of several original styles, most typically in a bat-wing gesso and compo over wood, as exemplified here in its original frame.
Curtis captured over 40,000 images from over 80 tribes. In addition to photographs, Curtis produced 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American languages and captured the first film footage of American Indians.
In total, The North American Indian project included over 2,200 of Curtis' photographs and thousands of pages of anthropological research, organized into 20 volumes accompanied by bound portfolios of oversize gravures. This project spanned over 25 years would not have been possible without the financial support and encouragement of influential figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and members of European royalty.
The complete contents of The North American Indian, originally published by Curtis between 1907-1930, may be viewed online at: http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/