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Edward S. Curtis

Edward S. Curtis was perhaps the most controversial and yet renown historian of American Indian culture. Born in 1868 near Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Sheriff Curtis moved with his family to Port Orchard, Washington in 1887 where his gift for photography led him to study the Indians living near the Seattle waterfront. 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 Byrd 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. Traveling on horseback, with their pack of horses trailing behind them, they emerged from the mountains to view the valley floor mast with over a thousand tepees – an awesome sight to Curtis and one that transformed his life. It was clear to him that he was to record, with pen and camera, the life of the North American Indian.

image by Edward S. Curtis
image by Edward S. Curtis
image by Edward S. Curtis
image by Edward S. Curtis
image by Edward S. Curtis
image by Edward S. Curtis

Curtis devoted the next 30 years photographing and documenting over 80 tribes west of the Mississippi from the Mexican border to Northern Alaska. In its completion in 1930, the work entitled The North American Indian, consisted of 20 volumes each containing 75 hand pressed photogravures and 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio containing at least 36 photogravures. Curtis passed away in 1952 in Los Angeles.

The photographs displayed at the Grumer & Macaluso, P.A law firm website are samples of Curtis’ work. The works herein are reprinted with permission of the Northwestern University Digital Library Collection.

Mr. Grumer first saw the works of Edward S. Curtis displayed in 1995 and was immediately drawn to the imagery and the nobility portrayed therein. He is an admirer and collector of the works. Six Curtis portraits are displayed within the office.

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