Sunday, November 13, 2011

Native American by Charles Erskine Scott Wood

White Crane Cayuse Indian 1891 Charles Erskine Scott Wood (19th C.) Watercolor & pencil The Huntington Library, Art Collections, & Botanical Gardens, San Marino, Californ

This painting is a very plain painting of a Native American - there is no background other than a block of colour of earthy brown - and because of this, it makes the subject the painting instantly the main focus. The subject of the painting is also plain; wearing just a plain brown shirt with his hair loose down his back. It's hard to tell what the painting is trying to tell us about Native Americans. While it is not a negative image, it's not exactly a positive one. My first thoughts were that for a start, the man isn't wearing anything Native - just a shirt (which while Native Americans wore shirts, they weren't fashioned so). While American settlers wore shirts, they would rarely wear just that. Cowboys would add at least a neck-tie and/or waistcoat. The shirt is also has a loose front creating an effect that seems too casual for the 1890's. On the other hand, the shirt is still a western piece of fashion.

Upon more research of the artist and his other drawings/paintings of Native Americans, it seemed to me that they were just sketches he'd draw on observing them. They all are wearing shirts - one with a belt [see below for reference!] and the other was entitled "
Untitled Study of a Native American". Perhaps all we can really tell from this photos is an honest image (in comparison to some around this time), in which the Indians are more westernised than they were before the settlers.

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