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    Description

    JOSEPH HENRY SHARP (American, 1859-1953)
    Lo the Widower
    Oil on canvas
    16-1/2 x 20 inches (41.9 x 50.8 cm)
    Signed lower right: J.H. Sharp

    "I was always interested [in Indians] even as a small boy. I guess it was Fenimore Cooper who first attracted me to the Indian. It was the romance of youth, of boyhood I suppose. Then when I came to know them, I liked them for themselves. Perhaps they attracted me as subjects to paint because of their important historical value as the first Americans. Then the color of their costumes and dances, this no less attracted me."
    -J.H. Sharp

    Known as the father of the Taos Society of Artists, J.H. Sharp was one of the first artists who traveled to northern New Mexico to paint the indigenous Native American tribes. As early as 1883, Sharp was fulfilling his boyhood dream of studying the Indians in their native lands and sketching them directly from life. Although reluctant at first to sit for a sketch, the Pueblo Indians soon warmed to Sharp's offers of candy, cigarettes and coins. After sketching in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, he continued on a sweeping journey across the southwestern United States where he came in contact with other tribes such as the Apache, the Nez Perce, and the Shoshone, among others.

    Sharp returned from these travels to Cincinnati and was disillusioned at the idea of continuing his previous society portraiture. He instead left for Europe and enrolled in the Académie Julian in order to further his artistic training. While in Paris, he met and became friends with two young American artists, Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein. This friendship would prove critical to the founding of the artists' colony of Taos. Sharp spoke so vividly about his earlier visits to Santa Fe that Phillips and Blumenschein were entranced. As soon as they returned to America, they traveled out west to witness firsthand the brilliant light and inspiring subjects of New Mexico. It was therefore Sharp more than the infamous broken wagon wheel that led to the founding of the artist colony in Taos.

    In this notable genre painting by Sharp, a Pueblo father is shown playing with his three young children on an adobe terrace. The man is recognizable as a Pueblo Indian by his shoulder-length cropped hair which has been secured with a cloth headband. Sharp had a meticulous eye for the details of traditional Native American dress, and he was as much anthropologist as he was painter. This insistence on authenticity was blended with a late nineteenth-century romanticism which resulted in ever so slightly idealized canvases.


    Condition Report*: Excellent Condition: wax relined canvas.
    *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. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. 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.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    24th-25th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,798

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