platinum print (overall production method/technique)
paper (overall material)
image: 20.6 cm x 15.7 cm; 8 1/8 in x 6 3/16 in
In 1898 New York photographer Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934) embarked on a deeply personal project, creating a set of prints that rank among the most compelling of her celebrated body of work. Käsebier was on the threshold of a career that would establish her as both the leading portraitist of her time and an extraordinary art photographer. Her new undertaking was inspired by viewing the grand parade of Buffalo Bill's Wild West troupe en route to Madison Square Garden for several weeks of performances.
Käsebier had spent her childhood on the Great Plains, and retained many vivid, happy memories of playing with nearby Native American children. She quickly sent a letter to William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917), requesting permission to photograph in her studio the Sioux Indians traveling with the show. Within a matter of weeks, Käsebier began a unique and special project photographing the Indian men, women, and children, formally and informally. Friendships developed, and her photography of these Native Americans continued for more than a decade.
The portrait of the wife of American Horse is the only example of an individual Sioux woman photographed with the Wild West group in Käsebier's studio. Families of the men performing with the show were allowed to accompany them and live in the camp. The women tended to family needs, including mending clothes, producing beadwork, and making moccasins.