Edward S Curtis


Born in 1868 near Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists. When the Curtis family moved to Port Orchard, Washington in 1887, Edward’s gift for photography led him to an investigation of the Indians living on the Seattle waterfront. His portrait of Chief Seattle’s daughter, Princess Angeline, won Curtis the highest award in a photographic contest. Having become well-known for his work-with the Indians, Curtis participated in the 1899 Harriman expedition to Alaska as one of two official photographers. He then accompanied George Bird Grinell, editor of Forest and Stream, on a trip to northern Montana. There they witnessed the deeply sacred Sundance of the Piegan and Blackfoot tribes. Travelling on horseback, with their pack horses trailing behind, they emerged from the mountains to view the valley floor massed with over a thousand teepees – an awesome sight to Curtis and one that transformed his life.

Everything fell into place at that moment: it was clear to him that he was to record, with pen and camera, the life of the North American Indian. Edward S. Curtis devoted the next 30 years photographing and documenting over eighty,tribes west of the Mississippi, from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. His project won support from such prominent and powerful figures as President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan. From 1911-1914, Curtis also produced and directed a silent film based on the mythology of the Rawakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Upon its completion in 1930, the work, entitled The North American Indian, consisted of 20 volumes, each containing 75 hand-pressed photogravures and approximagely 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio containing at least 36 photogravures..

Video Source: Smithsonian Magazine

(Smithsonian Magazine link above leads to full biography on E.S. Curtis)

About Edward Curtis' Photgravures

For many years, Gallery Director Kirk Rudy has committed a considerable portion of his ife to purchasing and preserving the remarkable photographs of Edward S. Curtis' years in "The North American Indian". It consists of 20 volumes with their matching porfolio.

For those interested in irreplaceable art, a limited number of those original photographs (printed between 1897 and 1928) are available for purchase.

As you may know, Edward S. Curtis devoted more than 30 years of his life to the development of a photographic record of all the features of Indian life and environment - young and old, the arts, ceremonies, games, and everyday customs.

Never before or since has a people been so clearly and sensitively recorded. Edward S. Curtis was a chronicler of not only the moment, but of an entire culture at peace with nature - one he felt sure was soon to be lost, as indeed it was.

In addition to his sensitive record keeping, Curtis also employed an unsurpassed method of reproducing his photography - photogravure. The process is painstakingly slow, because it involves inking by hand and the careful use of a hand-operated, flat-bed press. However, it was the perfect medium to demonstrate Curtis' response to the play of light and shadow on his subject and the artistry of his composition.

Sources indicate that there were only 300 prints made of each Edward S. Curtis photogravure, of which 200 are already in private portfolios and museum collections. An estimated 30 were lost, leaving approximately 70 prints for the collecting public.

Two sizes of photogravures were used in the collection, for the supplementing portfolios, 18" x 22" paper (large prints) was selected. The images measure approximately 12" x 15". The volume size prints (small prints) were printed on 9 ½" and 10 ½" paper and the image size is approximately 5" x 7". Feel free to contact us for availability.

Market dynamics make available only 1 to 5 pictures at any given time, and it is therefore no small wonder that Curtis prints have increased in value 150% over the last 10 years. These original photogravures represent an outstanding investment opportunity. As you know, it is difficult to predict what any investment will be worth years from now.

Your Edward S. Curtis photogravure, originally commissioned by J.P. Morgan and endorsed by President Theodore Roosevelt, is at once an unequaled historic record reproduced by a process now regarded as a "lost art", a work of indisputable artistic merit and an investment opportunity worthy of your consideration.

Edward S. Curtis meant to preserve a record of The North American Indian culture. He certainly did his part. To Make Edward S. Curtis' historical record a part of your own, call (530) 964-2966 or e-mail kirk@edwardscurtis.com. Each photogravure small print ( volume sized 9 ½" and 10 ½") is museum matted (12” x 16”) and carefully hand-packed to ensure delivery in perfect condition; and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. If you are not completely satisfied, you may return your purchase within 10 days for a complete refund.