TWO BEAUTIFUL, LARGE, VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS OF SIOUX CHIEFS BY FRANK A. RINEHART
(RINEHART, Frank A.). Two Large Native American Photographic Portraits. [Omaha: F.A. Rinehart, 1896]. One image measures 12-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches, the other 13 by 16 inches; both mounted on glass and framed together in old wooden frame; entire piece measures 33 by 20-1/2 inches. $15,000.
Two splendid large photographic portraits of Native American (Sioux) chiefs—Chief Hollow Horn Bear of the Lakota Sioux, on the left, and Chief Afraid of Eagle, of the Oglala Sioux, who participated in the Battle of Little Bighorn, on the right—by renowned photographer Frank A. Rinehart. Both images are vintage enlarged negatives (internegatives) that would have been used by Rinehart or his studio for producing large prints, and show remarkable detail, clarity, and fine tonal gradation.
In 1898 Smithsonian ethnographer James Mooney arranged for the Indian Congress to coincide with the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha so that the delegates could serve as a living ethnographic museum for the Exposition. Photographer Frank A. Rinehart, the Exposition's official photographer, was commissioned to do portraits of some of the 500 Indian delegates, "many of the most famous Indians of the day. Rinehart and his assistant and successor, George Marsden, made exquisite prints from the negatives of the Indians" (Mautz, 179). Rinehart's series of stunning photographs constitutes one of the most impressive visual records of Native Americans at the turn of the century.
"Hollow Horn Bear (1851-1913), Lakota chief and diplomat… was born in the year the Lakota people signed a treaty of peace with the United States at Fort Laramie… In 1868 another treaty was signed with the United States, which, from the government's point of view, ended hostilities and concentrated the Lakota on a large reservation in present-day South Dakota, with additional hunting territory beyond. From the Lakota standpoint, the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was a peace treaty that recognized the Lakota as a sovereign nation and guaranteed a perpetual land base that could not be reduced except by cession approved by three-fourths of the adult males of the Lakota nation… Although Hollow Horn Bear recognized the necessity of adapting to the new way of life on the reservations and of living in peace with the U.S. government, he was a strong advocate of Lakota interests. At negotiations regarding remaining tribal lands in the 1890s and the early 1900s, for example, Hollow Horn Bear was repeatedly delegated to speak for his tiospaye and others, to insist that the government could not force land cessions upon the Lakota but must obtain the consent of three-fourths of the men as required by the 1868 treaty. Although he was not able to prevent the government from violating the 1868 treaty because a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1904 legitimated treaty abrogation, Hollow Horn Bear's presence at the negotiations clearly pushed the agreements in the direction of Lakota interests. Without his presence, things would have been much worse for the Lakota people… Hollow Horn Bear became a fairly frequent visitor to Washington, D.C., at least by Lakota standards. He attended the inauguration of President Theodore Roosevelt and visited with Presidents William Howard Taft and Benjamin Harrison. In 1913, while ill, he attended the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Hollow Horn Bear died in Washington shortly after the inauguration… He was memorialized by the U.S. Postal Service in 1922 when it issued a stamp with his image. Hollow Horn Bear was a strong and perceptive leader among the Lakota people during the most traumatic period in their history—the transition from an independent native society to an indigenous nation struggling for survival within an encompassing industrial state. Hollow Horn Bear's skill and wisdom helped the U.S. government to see the point of view of the Lakota people and the Lakota people to see that some of the new ways could help them survive as Lakota" (ANB). Afraid of Eagle was a Chief of the Oglala people, and he was present at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, where General Custer met his demise.
Bit of spotting and crackling to negatives, chiefly near edges; old wooden frame showing some scratches and wear, exceptionally good condition. Very scarce and desirable.