Edward Sheriff Curtis

1868 – 1952

Tweedweave Edition Photogravures

Circa 1935 – 1967

Tweedweave Paper,   Portfolio-sized:  22″ x 18″

We are incredibly fortunate to have come into a collection of exceptional Edward Curtis photogravures from Portfolios 4 and 6 of his monumental undertaking, The North American Indian. These images have been in a private Montana collection for over 50 years; none have ever been framed, and in fact they’ve seldom been out of the storage folder except for occasional viewing. The tribes represented are largely regional, depicting the Apsaroke, Cheyenne and Piegan peoples.

Curtis originally intended to sell 500 sets of his magnum opus The North American Indian – twenty volumes of ethnographic information and photographs, each accompanied by a portfolio of larger images – but ultimately fewer than 290 sets were printed before his failing health and financial ruin ended the project. Of those, over 220 are known complete collections held by institutions or private parties, so individual prints are quite rare.

The Great Depression ultimately brought an end to Curtis’ dream, forcing him to declare bankruptcy and disband the North American Indian Company. The remaining unsold photogravures and the copper printing plates were sold in 1935 to Charles Lauriat, a rare book dealer in Boston. This inventory included 17 sets of portfolios 12-20; at some point between 1935 and 1967 Lauriat printed 17 copies of each image from Portfolios 1-11 to create complete sets for sale. The photogravures we have from Portfolios 4 and 6 come from this printing, and are known as either the Tweedweave edition, named after the paper they are printed on, or as the Sorini edition, after Emiliano Sorini, the engraver who completed the work. Other sources list the date of printing as 1967, but our collection was known to be in private hands in 1965, so these photogravures were created prior to that date. Although these Tweedweaves were sold as parts of original portfolios, they are considered “restrikes” because they were not printed at Curtis’ behest, and as such they do not command the higher prices of the original vintage prints. Still, the quality is undeniable – they were pulled from the original copper plates by a master engraver and are now over 50 years old! The Tweedweave photogravures allow one to collect Edward Curtis’ work at a very reasonable price.

At some point in the 1970s Lauriat sold the copper engraving plates, and since then a number of restrikes, particularly of the more famous images, have been printed. Various business and individuals have controlled the plates, and prints are still being made from the plates today; in fact, many of the copper engraving plates are currently listed for sale by a notable California art consultant. The key to identifying the age and originality of a Curtis photogravure lies in the paper itself, and in the provenance of each print or collection.

Plate 144 - Coups Well Known - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,625
Plate 207 - Piegan Encampment, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, SOLD
Plate 205 - Bringing the Sweat Lodge Willows, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $650
Plate 206 - Iron Breast - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $675
Plate 188 - Shot in the Hand - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $5,400
Plate 143 - Lone Tree - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $900
Plate 212 - Cheyenne Girl, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $675
Plate 211 - Cheyenne Profile, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $600
Plate 204 - Old Person - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,625
Plate 185 - Morning Eagle - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, SOLD
Plate 121 - Bread - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 118 - Hoop on Top - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $900
Plate 120 - Red Wing - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 210 - Cheyenne Type, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $600
Plate 128 - Bull Chief - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $900
Plate 125 - Ready for the Charge - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 123 - Wolf Lies Down - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,625
Plate 122 - The Spirit of the Past - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 139 - Upshaw - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 135 - Fish Shows - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 134 - Swallow Bird - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 131 - The Scout in Winter - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $2,700
Plate 138 - A Successful Raid for Horses - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 27 - Winter - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $2,900
Plate 137 - The Chief and His Staff - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 218 - Waiting in the Forest - Cheyenne, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $7,250
Plate 146 - Sitting Elk - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 145 - Wet - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $900
Plate 141 - Apsaroke Medicine Tipi, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 136 - In Black Canon - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,625
Plate 147 - Apsaroke War Group, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,625
Plate 140 - A Mountain Fastness - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,275
Plate 112 - Apsaroke War - Chief, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 219 - Little Wolf - Cheyenne, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $600
Plate 113 - Two Leggins - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,450
Plate 142 - Wolf - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, $1,300

– ARCHIVE –

Plate 191 - Double Runner - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, - SOLD
Plate 194 - Gambler - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, - SOLD
Plate 115 - White Man Runs Him - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, SOLD
Plate 184 - The Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, SOLD
Plate 193 - Travaux - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper - SOLD
Plate 215 - Cheyenne Warriors, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, - SOLD
Plate 197 - An Idle Hour - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, - SOLD
Plate 111 - Two Whistles - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, - SOLD
Plate 117 - Medicine Crow - Apsaroke, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper, - SOLD
Plate 190 - Two Bear Woman - Piegan, Photogravure on Tweedweave Paper - SOLD
Plate 245 - Nespilim Woman, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD
Plate 226 - Klickitat Profile, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD
Plate 227 - Flathead Type, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD
Plate 221 - Wife of Mnainak - Yakima, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD
Plate 242 - On Spokane River, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD
Plate 238 -Dusty Dress - Kalispel Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD
Plate 247 - Luqaiot - Kittitas, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, - SOLD
Plate 225 - Klickitat Type, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper,  - SOLD
Plate 222 - Wishnai - Yakima, Photogravure on Holland Van Gelder Paper, SOLD

About Edward Sheriff Curtis

Born in 1868 near Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff Curtis became one of America’s finest photographers and ethnologists. Beginning in 1896 and ending in 1930, Curtis photographed and documented every major Native American tribe west of the Mississippi, taking over 40,000 negatives of eighty tribes. For thirty years, he devoted his life to an odyssey of photographing and documenting the lives and traditions of the Native people of North America. His photographs had an immense impact on the national imagination and continue to shape the way we see Native life and culture.

Curtis’ work is not without its critics, and some dismiss him as a romantic. He went to great lengths to reconstruct the past, with the intent of capturing the essence of Native Americans and their traditional culture, though not necessarily their circumstances in 1900. Perhaps his most important legacy is his expression of an extraordinary sympathy with the personal and spiritual lives of the American Indian. In this respect Edward S. Curtis stands alone among the photographers of Native American. His methods may have been controversial, but what a legacy he recorded for us.

Source:  AskArt.com