Sometime after 1905, the artist also began construction of a permanent log cabin in Montana's Crow Agency that served as his home and studio in the fall and winter months. Sharp's Indian subjects are often distinguished by his sensitive and insightful understanding of their diminishing native culture. In Summer Camp Life, Crow Encampment, Little Big Horn, Montana, painted circa 1920, Sharp employs loose, energetic brushstrokes and a soft, yet colorful palette of orange-tinted browns, cool teals and hints of deep red to create an impressionistic image of Indian life on the Plains. His empathy and respect for Indian culture is evident in the composition and the palette of the camp of teepees scattered along the hillside mimics that of the landscape, emphasizing their place in nature. Sharp’s subtle demeanor contrasted with that other frontiersmen the Indians encountered and earned him respect from the tribes among which he periodically lived. Patricia Janis Broder writes, "Throughout his life Sharp was the spiritual brother of the Indian people. A quiet, serene, and patient man, like many of the Indian people he painted, he possessed an inner strength and stoic philosophy. He was able to accept the inevitable. He was intuitively perceptive and was capable of understanding the inner feelings of the individual" (Taos: A Painter's Dream, New York, 1980, p. 52). Insistent on painting directly from life, Sharp's intimacy with his subjects allowed him to carefully observe their daily activities, as he sought to depict accurately the costumes and objects associated with the various tribes. His intense interest in his subjects often included describing their histories and personal idiosyncrasies on the back of his canvases. Sharp's skill in capturing the likeness' of the Indians and his ethnographic interest in their cultural traditions, costumes and artifacts eventually earned him the nickname "The Anthropologist."
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