Jerry and Frances Freeman, Santa Fe, New Mexico Sale: Coeur d'Alene Art Auction, Reno, Nevada, July 26, 2008, lot 70 Acquired by the present owner at the above sale
Forrest Fenn, Teepee Smoke: A New Look into the Life and Work of Joseph Henry Sharp, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2007, illustrated p. 214
Joseph Henry Sharp first developed an interest in Native American culture after reading the tales written by the famed author James Fenimore Cooper as a young boy in Cincinnati, Ohio. Years later, Sharp encountered a delegation of Native Americans delayed at a local rail station on their way to Washington. The profound experience revived the young man’s interest in the Native American way of life. In 1883, at the age of 24, Sharp made his first visit to the American West, traveling to Santa Fe and neighboring towns to paint the local Pueblo Indians.
Inspired by this visit and aware of the steady erosion of the Native American lifestyle, Sharp set out to create a visual record of their unique culture. Ten years later, Sharp received a commission from Harper's Weekly to document Taos, New Mexico and the surrounding settlements. The village and its people captivated Sharp, who later opened a studio there in 1909. By 1912, Sharp had made Taos his full-time residence and founded the Taos Society of Artists along with fellow painters Bert Geer Phillips, Ernest Blumenschein, Oscar Berninghaus, Eanger Irving Couse and W. Herbert Dunton.
Sharp often developed close personal friendships with the Native Americans he portrayed and frequently painted the same models more than once. Of these portraits, the scholar Patricia Janis Broder noted: "[Sharp] painted hundreds of portraits of Indians, choosing as his subjects outstanding leaders of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well as the men, women, and children who participated in the daily life of a transitional Indian world. He knew his subjects personally and recorded not only their physical likenesses but also their human strengths and weaknesses. He portrayed them as individuals who shared a cultural and political history but in their personal lives had experience success and failure, joy and sorrow. His paintings illustrate his compassion for and understanding of the twentieth-century Indians, who unlike their ancestors were forced to live in a rapidly changing, alien world, yet were determined to retain their tribal identity" (Taos: A Painter's Dream, Boston, Massachusetts, 1980, p. 37).
The work is unlined and there is a natural buckling to the canvas overall. There is minor frame abrasion at extreme edges and the work appears slightly dirty. Under UV: there are two pindots of inpainting in the background to the left of the figure's face, and a few other scattered dots. Some pigments fluoresce unevenly but appear to be original. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.