Photo of Woman Seated

Edward Curtis

I happened upon the first photograph, the Curtis photograph of the seated woman, at an outdoor flea market in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was positioned on the ground next to a table facing the sun, and as an art curator, my instinct was to protect any photo from direct sunlight.
I bought the photograph for only ten dollars, recognizing the Edward Curtis signature. Edward Curtis photographed wealthy individuals to sustain the immense costs of his life’s work, recording the faces and lifestyles of over eighty vanishing Native American tribes, something he did between 1904 and 1930. Although the identity of the woman remains unknown, my research and several historians have eliminated some possibilities. This image may depict one of his wealthy clients.

The second photo, “On the Old Well of Acoma,” was printed in 1974 from the original copper plate. Jean-Antony du Lac printed a series of Curtis photographs, which are said to be undistinguishable from the originals.