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Handsome Morning -- A Dakota

Harry C. Edwards

American Art

Harry C. Edwards’s striking studio portrait of Handsome Morning—a woman the artist identifies as Dakota Sioux—reflects a turn-of-the-century fascination with romanticized subjects in costume. Handsome Morning’s regalia consists of a fringed dress with beaded yoke, a tubular bone-bead necklace, beaded moccasins, and a buffalo-hide robe. It is likely that she was styled and posed according to conventional portrayals of Native American people made popular by the theatricalized portraits of photographer Edward S. Curtis, which included the mixing of tribal dress and ornamentation, and the use of stoic expressions and gestures.

Akin to the 1880 U.S. government–commissioned Crow Peace Delegation portraits, which were later appropriated and annotated by contemporary artist Wendy Red Star (on view nearby), Edwards’s use of his sitter’s name in the title signaled authenticity to viewers. Artists at the time were aware of the U.S. government’s long-standing exploitation of, and open assault on, the lives and lands of Native people. Edwards was likely motivated by an interest in his subject as a curiosity rather than by an active regard for her community.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1921
DIMENSIONS frame: 81 9/16 x 45 9/16 x 4 1/8 in. (207.2 x 115.7 x 10.5 cm) 72 1/16 x 36 1/16 in. (183 x 91.6 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower left: "c / 1921 / BY / H.C.EDWARDS"
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Estate of Grace C. Edwards
PROVENANCE By 1922, inherited from the artist by Grace C. Edwards of Brooklyn, NY; February 23, 1926, gift of the Estate of Grace C. Edwards to the Brooklyn Museum.
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MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Harry C. Edwards (American, 1868–1922). Handsome Morning -- A Dakota, 1921. Oil on canvas, frame: 81 9/16 x 45 9/16 x 4 1/8 in. (207.2 x 115.7 x 10.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Estate of Grace C. Edwards, 26.149 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 26.149_PS20.jpg)
IMAGE overall, Paula Abreu Pita, 26.149_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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