Lot 575    

Joseph Henry Sharp, Indian Medicine or Black Robe?
2006, Spring Decorative Arts, June 17
oil on canvas, signed lower right, and titled and signed on verso. Retains original Taos Society price tag and is in its original frame; 25" x 30" (w/o frame), 36" x 41" (w/frame).

Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953) is considered the father of the Taos Society of Artists. His extraordinary output of paintings in his long career made him one of the most prolific and prominent painters of the American Indian. Although he is known for his images of the American west, his other accomplishments included years of teaching in Cincinnati and publication of his works in several magazines.

Sharp was born in Bridgeport, Ohio in 1859. When he was a boy, his hearing was severely damaged as a result of a near-drowning incident. At age 12, his father died, and at age 14, Sharp was forced to drop out of school because his hearing loss had deteriorated and was virtually complete. Sharp then moved to Cincinnati to live with his aunt, and it was here that his formal art education began. He managed to enroll in the McMicken School of Design while still working and providing his mother with financial support. Afterwards he continued at the Cincinnati Art Academy and at age 22, he took his first trip abroad to Antwerp. Over the next decade, Sharp would study in Munich, Spain, Italy and Paris with notable artists such as Karl Marr and Cincinnati friend Frank Duveneck. In Cincinnati, Sharp was a student of Henry Farny, another renowned painter of Indians. Sharp insisted on going West and it was suggested by Farny that he study the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. His first trip was to Santa Fe in 1882. In 1893, Sharp discovered the Taos area, and became fascinated by the mixture of Indian and Spanish cultures. He also began teaching figure painting the year before at the Cincinnati Art Academy, and during the next several years he often split his time between Taos and Cincinnati, where he taught figure painting at the Art Academy. Sharp, however, did not restrict himself to Taos and its inhabitants. He realized that the Plains Indians were moving towards extinction, so he made several trips north, especially to document Indian survivors of the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Having achieved significant success with his artistic pursuits, Sharp resigned his teaching position in Cincinnati in 1902 and split his time between the Crow Agency in Montana and Taos. He was rapidly becoming the most highly regarded portrait artist of American Indians. In Montana alone, Sharp executed over 200 portraits of Plains Indians. After he had exhausted his possibilities at the Crow Agency, he moved permanently to Taos in 1912. From there he continued to work and travel until his death in 1953 at age 93.

While Sharp is revered in the artistic community for the founding of the Taos Society, one can persuasively argue that his contribution to study of the history and culture of the American Indian is far more important. He left behind thousands of paintings, and his documentation of Indian life is unrivaled. It was his constant goal to capture the essence of Indian life during a period when their cultures were slowly deteriorating.

Indian Medicine or Black Robe? is one of Sharp’s more profound, complicated, and provocative works. The subject is an Indian, in this case Elk Foot, seated in a bare interior contemplating his spiritual beliefs. He leans against the wall, staring down at a bundle of eagle feathers—his Indian medicine, while he grapples with the prospect of Christianity, illustrated by the crucifix on the wall. On the back of this painting is an original label, in Sharp’s hand: INDIAN MEDICINE OR BLACK ROBE. The Indian designates the Christian religion by the word "blackrobe" - In his hands is his "spiritual medicine", various charms to keep evil spirits away and propitiate the gods - It is a study of the conflicting emotions between his own religion and Christianity. J.H. Sharp.

Such thematic constructions were not uncommon in Sharp’s work, given his art historical background and his studies in Europe. He often recorded Indian rituals in his work, and he was very much aware of the period of change that was approaching tribes in the frontier. Indian Medicine is expressive of the fragility of their traditions and the perplexities of their situation.



Provenance:  
Ex Collection Marge and Charles Schott


Condition:  
Lined and replaced stretcher, frame repainted.
Sold: $450,000.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

Mirror with Reverse-Painted Tablet,
Lot # 204 - Mirror with Reverse-Painted Tablet,
American, ca 1820-40. Constructed of mixed woods, four half round columns join raised corner blocks surrounding a period mirror with reverse painted farm scene above. In an overall gilt paint; 20" high x 10.5" wide. > Item Details
Landscape with Lakeside Indian Village,
Lot # 625 - Landscape with Lakeside Indian Village,
watercolor, signed bottom middle E. Freshwater. Tipis and canoe alongside a riverbank at dusk. 19.5" x 27.5" (w/o frame), 23" x 31" (w/frame). In a wood frame with hammered surface. > Item Details
George Marcum, Impressionist Harbor Scene,
Lot # 400 - George Marcum, Impressionist Harbor Scene,
oil on board, unsigned, image of a boat docked at a wharf with industrial buildings in the background. 10.5" x 8.5" (w/o frame), 15" x 13" (w/frame). In a gilded moulded wood frame. George Herbert Marcum (1870-1955, Philadelphia) studied at the Art Students League in New York. He exhibited at the Wh... > Item Details
Early Chinese Table and Four Chairs,
Lot # 427 - Early Chinese Table and Four Chairs,
chairs are elm and 1860s, table is mixed softwoods and 1850s. Chairs with plank seats, yoke backs and shaped splats; in a dark finish with appropriate wear; 20" seat height x 46" overall height. Table with a framed plank top, skirted base with carved legs terminating in hoof feet; in a dark finish... > Item Details
Model Steam Locomotive with Tender, and Photograph,
Lot # 331 - Model Steam Locomotive with Tender, and Photograph,
early or mid-20th century. A live steam model train with attached tender, mica windows, and what appears to be its original paint, with CENTRAL on the engine and 648 on the tender. Lot includes an early photograph of an engine very similar to this one. Train is 35" long, mounted on a section of t... > Item Details
Charles Kaelin, Lush Landscape ,
Lot # 419 - Charles Kaelin, Lush Landscape ,
oil on canvas, signed lower left by Kaelin. Impressionistic image of boulders in a valley. 16" x 19.5" (w/o frame), 22" x 26.5" (w/frame). In a gold painted wood frame with incised geometric boulders. Plaque reads Fallen Rocks at Rocky Ford/Highland County/By Chas. Kaelin. Charles Salis Kaelin (1858... > Item Details
Walnut Corner Cupboard,
Lot # 160 - Walnut Corner Cupboard,
American, mid-19th century, walnut secondary wood, constructed with pins and cut nails. A one-piece cupboard, upper section with 3 shelves behind 2 doors having 4 panes each; lower section with 2 inset raised block panel doors. Refinished with replaced hardware; 81" high x 40" wide (takes a 28" cor... > Item Details
Early Andrew Newell, Boston Semi-Circumferentor,
Lot # 470 - Early Andrew Newell, Boston Semi-Circumferentor,
in maple or birch with an incised scale from 0-180 and an inset compass with a steel needle; 5" x 10.25". Andrew Newell (1751-1798) made a variety of surveying and other instruments late 18th-century Boston. Later in life, he worked with his son, Joseph, under Newell and Son. > Item Details
Twelve Dedham Pottery Two-Eared Rabbit Soup Bowls,
Lot # 533 - Twelve Dedham Pottery Two-Eared Rabbit Soup Bowls,
ca 1920, of stoneware with crackle glaze and cobalt border of two-eared rabbits alternating with stylized trees; marked below with square underglaze blue mark in use between 1896-1943, depicting crouching rabbit with Dedham Pottery; 9.25" diameter. > Item Details
Hand-Painted Militia Snare Drum,
Lot # 787 - Hand-Painted Militia Snare Drum,
front presents image of an eagle perched upon an oval device with a national shield inside. Background with a panoply of flags and military trophies, resting upon flourished scrolls. Right side of image is flanked by a vertical shield with the initials D.C.B. with intricate scrollwork border. Drum p... > Item Details
Folk Art Whirligig,
Lot # 518 - Folk Art Whirligig,
American, first half 20th century, constructed of pine and bent wire. It depicts a mother and child with buildings; the rotation of the vanes articulates the mother's arm, causing it to strike the child on the top of his head. In a grungy alligatored paint; 12" high x 15" long x 7.5" (across vanes... > Item Details
E.T. Hurley, <i>The Monastery, Mt. Adams</i>,
Lot # 80 - E.T. Hurley, The Monastery, Mt. Adams,
aquatint on paper, signed in the plate and dated 25 and pencil-signed lower right and dated 33. A classic Hurley cityscape of Mount Adams and the Monastery of Passionist Fathers in his lesser-used printing method. In a modern frame; 12" x 8" (plate), 17" x 17.75" (w/frame). Edward Timothy Hurley (... > Item Details
Five Etchings by Charles C. Svendsen, Rookwood Artist,
Lot # 542 - Five Etchings by Charles C. Svendsen, Rookwood Artist,
first image signed bottom left in pencil Charles C. Svendsen and entitled A Young Fisherman, depicts a boy resting upon a ladder; 11" x 7" (image only), 19" x 15" (w/matting). Second is signed Charles C. Svendsen with artist's monogrammed initials bottom left CS depicting sheep underneath a canopy o... > Item Details
Set of Gilded Coalport Porcelain Dessert Plates Retailed by Tiffany,
Lot # 308 - Set of Gilded Coalport Porcelain Dessert Plates Retailed by Tiffany,
lot of 11, of bone china, by Coalport for Tiffany & Co., and lavishly hand-decorated with gold relief scrollwork on the surround. Marked below with underglaze green Coalport crown backstamp, Tiffany & Co. / New York and hand painted pattern number in red Z.2492; 9.25" diameter. > Item Details
Large Peaseware Lidded and Handled Container,
Lot # 681 - Large Peaseware Lidded and Handled Container,
of poplar, likely Midwestern and mid-19th century. A bulbous lathe-turned container having a footed base and wire bail handle. Retains the original lid having a knob finial and decorated with incised lines. In a mellow patina, traces of old red paint remain; 8" high x approx 11" diameter. > Item Details
Pair of Diminutive New England Whale Oil Lamps,
Lot # 718 - Pair of Diminutive New England Whale Oil Lamps,
early to mid-19th century, of colorless flint glass, with pressed fonts in a three-part mold, with faceted stems ending in domed, circular feet. Both retain period #1 collars with two thin annular rings and double fluid-burning wick holders, one retaining the original wick caps; 7.75" high to top of... > Item Details
John W. Bentley, Springtime Landscape with Figures,
Lot # 792 - John W. Bentley, Springtime Landscape with Figures,
oil on canvas, signed lower left. A colorful depiction of two young ladies feeding geese in a pond, with cottages and the ocean in the background. In a gold-painted frame; 17.75" x 26.75" (w/o frame), 21.5" x 30.5" (w/frame). John W. Bentley (1880-1951) studied at the Art Students League with Geo... > Item Details
Prior-Hamblin School Portrait of a Young Child,
Lot # 504 - Prior-Hamblin School Portrait of a Young Child,
ca 1820-1850, oil on board. A frontal, half-length portrait of a stern-looking child wearing a pink dress. Unframed; 14.75" x 12.5". > Item Details
Pair of Miniature Portraits on Ivory of the Knapp Children,
Lot # 183 - Pair of Miniature Portraits on Ivory of the Knapp Children,
purportedly from a Connecticut family, a pair of skillfully painted, well detailed portraits; housed within oblong brass cases; 2.5" x 2" (daughter), 2.75" x 2.25" (son). > Item Details
Signed  Wax Portrait of Lord Nelson, by Petit,
Lot # 184 - Signed Wax Portrait of Lord Nelson, by Petit,
English, late 18th-early 19th century. A painted wax profile, artist signed PETIT below shoulder, identified as Nelson below the portrait. In the original grain painted wooden shadow box ogee frame; 7" x 6" (frame).Probably by Louise (Louis) Marie Petit (1784-c1839), European miniature artist; list... > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20
SKIP TO PAGE: