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Eagle Elk - Sioux: Rinehart 1898 [1930]

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  • Author: Frank Albert Rinehart
  • Date: 1898 [1930]
  • Medium: Photograph
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Inches: 11 x 14 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 28.21 x 35.90 [Image]
  • Product ID: 000607

Silver print, copyrighted 1898, printed from original negative in 1930.

Frank Albert Rinehart was an American artist famous for his drawings, paintings, and photographs depicting Native American personalities and scenes. In 1898, on the occasion of the Indian Congress held in conjunction with the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Rinehart was commissioned to photograph the event and the Native American personalities who attended it. Together with his assistant Adolph Muhr (who would later be employed by the famous photographer Edward S. Curtis), they produced what is now considered "one of the best photographic documentations of Indian leaders at the turn of the century". Tom Southall, former photograph curator at the University of Kansas' Spencer Art Museum, said of the Rinehart collection:

The dramatic beauty of these portraits is especially impressive as a departure from earlier, less sensitive photographs of Native Americans. Instead of being detached, ethnographic records, the Rinehart photographs are portraits of individuals with an emphasis on strength of expression. While Rinehart and Muhr were not the first photographers to portray Indian subjects with such dignity, this large body of work which was widely seen and distributed may have had an important influence in changing subsequent portrayals of Native Americans.

Rinehart and Muhr photographed American Indians at the Indian Congress in a studio on the Exposition grounds with an 8 x 10 glass-negative camera with a German lens. Platinum prints were produced to achieve the broad range of tonal values that medium afforded.

After the Indian Congress, Rinehart and Muhr travelled the Indian reservations for two years, portraying Native American leaders who had not attended the event, as well as depicting general aspects of the indigenous everyday life and culture.