Description

    GANNAWAY'S OSAGE PORTRAITS
    c. 1865 All are extremely crisp, albumen prints in CDV format made by Burrell Z. Gannaway at Fort Smith, Arkansas, during the first or second week of September, 1865. Two cards lack a printed back-stamp, like all of the Osage portraits at British Museum. Four of the cards bear Gannaway's back-stamp, each with a different printed logo. These are the key evidence which, after a lapse of 145 years, reveals Gannaway as the artist responsible for the important, 1865 Osage series at the British Museum, with copy images at the National Anthropological Archives. Two of these printed back-cards locate his studio on the "South Side Garrison Ave," in the first year that a town of Fort Smith was coming into existence, prior to the first city directory issued in 1870. Two others locate the business at "140 Garrison Avenue," somewhat later. It is clear that Gannaway, like any photographer, maintained a stock of the images he had made, printed at various times, available for sale. J.W. Trapp, an antecedent of the consignor, visited Fort Smith at an unknown date during the 19th century and purchased this collection. Each of the cards bears an identification written in blue pencil, presumably in Gannaway's hand. At a later date, when these identifications had become somewhat faded, another hand copied the identifications in ink and added the name "J.W. Trapp," or the information "J.W. Trapp visited Ft. Smith, Ark." A third hand, at an early date in copperplate script, has added the name "W.J. Bonner" to two of the back-cards.

    1. Peter Lauke, Osage. Lauke is a traditional Osage name, still common in Oklahoma.

    In this portrait he sits bare chested and bare headed, his torso covered with paint. Although appearing "white," due to the emulsions in use during the 19th century, it is more likely that the pigment was blue, which tended to photograph very light in tone.

    2. Unidentified. This man may possibly be White Hair, III (Pa-ha-ska), son of the Osage Head Chief. His features are very similar to those of White Hair, II (British Museum, Reg. No. Am,A38.81). The son was certainly at Fort Smith. It would be very strange if he had not been photographed with the other Osage leaders, but no other Gannaway portrait which might portray him has surfaced.

    The sheen of his face and scalp indicate a covering of vermillion paint. An eagle coup feather stands in his scalplock, the tip decorated with the rattle from a rattlesnake. Profuse silver, ball & cone earrings decorate his ears, with many necklaces of clam-shell beads, purple and white. Arm bands of either brass or nickel-silver accent his cloth shirt.

    3. Four Lodges (Tse Topa/ Che-topa), Head Chief of the Little Osages. Ink inscription, verso, "Twelve O'Clock," is the joking nickname which officers at Fort Smith gave to the elderly chief, due to his unerring ability to arrive for a "council" precisely when lunch was being served. One of the Creek chiefs had received the same nickname (Kappler, 1904, Vol. II: 1051).

    An unidentified, rather-badly hand-colored copy of this print is in the British Museum Collection (Reg. No. Am,A9.178). The card offered here is the only perfect copy known. Four Lodges wears the same clothing, head scarf and white wool blanket with black stripes seen in Gannaway's group portrait of the leading Osage Chiefs attending the 1865, Fort Smith conference (NAA, No. gn_04159c), where he is standing 2nd from left). Ball & cone silver earrings hang from multiple perforations of the chief's ear cartilage.

    Near the end of his life at this time, and though appearing very frail, in his youth Four Lodges had been a fearsome leader of war parties. His name derived from a brutal incident in the summer of 1833, which had lasting consequences for his own people, the Kiowa tribe, and the government of the United States. An Osage war party led by him attacked a small encampment of four Kiowa families on Otter Creek, about 25 miles northwest of the present site of Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The Osage struck at dawn, the men all naked save for breechcloths and painted entirely either black or vermillion, an indication that they would give no quarter. The 1845 painting "Osage Scalp Dance" by John Mix Stanley (Smithsonian American Art Museum, No. 1985.66.248.930) gives an idea of how they must have appeared. Several of the Kiowa men, including the band chief Island Man, were able to escape. Five other men, with more than a dozen women and children were massacred near the lodges. The Kiowa had just come from trading with the Pawnee, so the tipis were filled with shiny, brass cooking kettles. Using the type of war axes seen in the Gannaway portraits, the Osage decapitated all of the victims, leaving the heads in brass kettles all over the camp. When a rescue party reached the site the following day, the Kiowa were so appalled that the huge defeat became the marker for that year on their tribal calendar: "The summer when they cut off their heads." A pictograph depicts a woman's head, with a bloody knife below (Mooney, 1898: 257-259 & Fig. 63). One of the women killed had been the wife of the Keeper of the Taime, the tribal palladium. The Osage took this sacred bundle with them, so for the next two years the Kiowa were bereft and unable to perform their Sun Dance ceremony. It was the equivalent to the Tribes of Israel losing the Ark of the Covenant.

    When the Osage war party returned to their own people, the leader took the "valor name" of Four Lodges, from the number of tipis in the camp his men had destroyed (Burns, 2004: 34 & 215-216). The Osage had captured one boy about ten years of age and a teen-aged girl. When the party stopped at Fort Gibson, Arkansas, officers at the fort ransomed the two children. They also counseled the Osage chiefs that an end to hostility with the Kiowa would be beneficial. The elder Osage leaders agreed. This led to the 1834, U.S. Dragoon Expedition into Indian Territory, when the Kiowa girl (the boy had died, meanwhile) was returned to her family. This was the occasion when the artist George Catlin made his earliest portraits of members of the Osage, Kiowa and Comanche tribes, all now in the Smithsonian collections. The Kiowa leaders returned with the expedition to Fort Gibson, where a lasting peace between the tribes was agreed upon. At that time the Taime bundle was returned to the Kiowa priests, from the hands seen here, quietly folded in the lap of an old man.

    4. Man Afraid of His Wife, Osage. The joking name is typical of many tribal leaders, in societies where social leveling was an important means of preventing despotism, so it may be correct; unlike "Twelve O'Clock and "Step and Fetch It."

    This is the only print known of this portrait, seen here for the first time. This middle-aged warrior is plainly dressed, with a cotton shirt, cotton kerchief, undecorated wool leggings and a wool blanket. The plucked scalp indicates that he is still an active warrior. His Missouri war axe features three, decorative perforations, a circle, 5-point star and a heart. Note that the haft is covered in a typical sleeve of red-wool trade cloth. The white selvedge may be seen extending at the base. The blade was likely also painted with vermillion. A cloth-wrapped bundle, perhaps containing his lunch, lies on the floor.

    5. Going Snake, Osage. "Step and Fetch It," a snide nickname applied either by the soldiers at Fort Smith or the photographer, has been penciled, verso. The man's correct Osage name appears on another copy of this image sold by Be-hold Auctions, Yonkers, New York (Sale 46, Jan. 18, 2006: Lot 80), the only duplicate print that is known.

    The wide, seed-beaded strips on his woolen leggings, and on the blanket wrapped around his waist, are untypical of Osage design. Probably they were received in trade from Ponca allies. His moccasins are typical, undecorated Osage footwear. Going Snake's scalp has been plucked in the fashion of men going to war and a folded scarf, probably of black silk, is tied tightly around his forehead. The tail feather of a golden eagle, signifying battle coups, is inserted into this scarf, at the rear. Cradled in his strong, right arm is a "gunstock" war club decorated with patterns set in brass upholstery tacks. Typically, such a weapon featured a large, triangular iron or steel blade set into the outer angle, where the dark nipple may be seen. Although nearly invisible, here, possibly due to light reflection from paint on the blade, there is a pale "defect" in the background, of the proper shape, and about ten inches long. In the portrait of Man Afraid of His Wife, note that one corner of the iron blade of his war axe similarly disappears against the light-colored background. Another eagle feather, at the end of a fringed attachment thong, hangs from the lower corner of the gunstock club.

    6. Peter Lauke, Osage. Lauke is a traditional Osage name, still common in Oklahoma.

    In this portrait Lauke is in full war dress, wearing a breastplate of shell hairpipe with crescent-shaped silver suspensions. Originally, these probably decorated a Mexican-made, silver trade bridle. Nickel-silver armbands and silver ball & cone earrings are his other embellishments. A heavy, Missouri war axe is grasped in his hands, its handle sheathed in red-wool cloth, like the weapon of Man Afraid of His Wife.

    Provenance:
    Collected by the current owner's ancestor, John W. Trapp.

    Dimensions: each image 2 ¼ x 3 ¾ inches

    For more information on this photograph, please read Burrell Z. Gannaway- Earliest Photographs of Plains Indian People.


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    Condition report available upon request.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    12th Saturday
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