Unique photographs of Edward Curtis.
Edward Sheriff Curtis (Edward Sheriff Curtis) is an American photographer, who devoted his life to collecting a unique collection of photographs of the Wild West and Indians. The Curtis collection consists of several thousand images, the most part acquired by the Library of Congress, and others are in private collections. Curtis was criticized for “polishing” the image of Indians, but of the importance of his contribution to the preservation of a vanishing native American culture is not denied. Photos powerful.
Curtis made more than 40,000 photographs of 80 tribes. In addition to photographs, Curtis recorded samples of Indian speech and music, with more than 10,000 wax cylinders, and collected local legends and traditions, described in his memoirs the traditional food of the Indians, their homes, clothing, leisure and burial ceremonies. He has also compiled biographical sketches of tribal leaders, and his material is in many cases the only written source on the history of the respective tribe prior to the beginning of the XX century.
16 Oct 1916, wife of Curtis, Clara, filed a complaint for divorce, which was granted in 1919. According to the court, Clara got the Studio, Curtis and all the originals of his negatives as a partial reimbursement of its claim. Then Edward Curtis went to the Studio and destroyed all the glass negatives, not wanting to get his ex-wife. In the future, Clara ran the Studio of Curtis along with her sister.
In 1935 the rights to the album the North American Indian and the remaining unpublished material were sold by the house of Morgan company Charles Loreta (Charles E. Lauriat Company) in Boston for $ 1,000 plus interest from future sales. In the amount of the sale was made up of 19 complete bound sets of The North American Indian, thousands of prints, the unsewn printed pages, and the original glass-plate negatives. In turn, Lariat twisted the remaining unpublished pages and sold them together with sets of albums. Other material remained untouched in the house of Loreta, where it was accidentally discovered in 1972.
Curtis has received rave reviews on their photos, but also criticized by professional ethnologists for manipulating. Photos of Curtis distorted representation of American Indians in the spirit of the popular stereotypes of the time. Although the end of XIX — beginning of XX century was the most tragic period in the history of the Indians, when losing the war against the whites, disease and other reasons, has put many of the tribes on the brink of extinction, at the same time, many Indians have successfully adapted to white culture. Curtis also sought to eliminate any traces of white culture in his photographs of the Indians.
Many photos Curtis retouch such “non-indigenous” objects like parasols, suspenders, wagons, and other traces of Western material culture. For example, the photograph “In the house of Pegana”, published in the album The North American Indian, Curtis retouch the watch on the floor between the Indian chief and his son.
It is also known that Curtis paid natives to pose in front of the camera, and posing occasionally had to wear historically inaccurate costumes, dance or take part in staged ceremonies. But despite that, many historians of the United States appreciate the contribution of Curtiss to the preservation of vanishing remnants of native American culture.
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