Handsome Morning -- A Dakota
Harry C. Edwards
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830
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.
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)
72 1/16 x 36 1/16 in. (183 x 91.6 cm) (show scale)
Signed lower left: "c / 1921 / BY / H.C.EDWARDS"
Gift of the Estate of Grace C. Edwards
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_SL1.jpg)
overall, 26.149_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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