I've wanted to broaden this photoblog by showing some objects in the museum collection instead of just photographs. This object offers a perfect bridge. The museum director showed me a collection of "Edward Curtis prints" in the museum archives, and asked what they are-- are they photographic prints, lithographs?
Step 1: We viewed under a magnifier. A lithograph reproduces tone by varying size or clustering of dots of ink, while a photograph has continuous tone. This print is continuous tone, but it is on a very thin rice paper, unlike any photographic paper I have ever seen.
Step 2: I scanned the image at high resolution so I could see it at a greater enlargement. It showed a grain similar to photographic grain, but a bit more coarse than photographs of the period.
Step 3: I entered a scan of the image into Google's "search by image" tool to see if this image was on the web somewhere. It returned an exact hit on a page on the Portland Art Museum's website identifying this as an Edward Curtis photogravure.
Photogravure is a fascinating process in which a copper plate is made from a photographic negative, but instead of rendering tone in dots it is rendered in depth of "wells" for ink on the plate. Darker tones are more deeply engraved into the copper. A special ink is used on a wet paper, so the deeper wells make darker printing on the paper rendering darker tones. You can read all about it here.
The museum currently has one image from this series on display, but they are considering an exhibit showing the complete collection.
I wish I knew a little more about this man. I am thinking and only that, that he might have been somewhat connected with Chief Chenowith and his small band. However, that boat looks more like the ones that the tribes had up along the Washington coast. I am wondering if that handle is the handle to a shovel or his walking stick. Guessing he must be a man of importance due to that string of beads.
Charlott on 22nd August 2016 @ 7:07am
The handle seen is most likely a paddle for the canoe.
Dale Nicol on 22nd August 2016 @ 7:17am
I agree with Dale, one hand on a paddle and one on the canoe.
Kenn on 22nd August 2016 @ 7:29am
How dumb of me not to realize that was a paddle......
Charlott on 22nd August 2016 @ 7:35am
Maybe elder from a Chinook band from around the mouth of the Columbia?
Buzz on 22nd August 2016 @ 7:45am
This is from the NW Coast groups of Curtis pictures -the front of the canoe features a "wolfs head" and yes, he is holding the paddle, which is hand carved (and they had names to help them speed over the waves). He is wearing trade beads of red and white and judging from the amount of them, he is rich indeed. I think he may be part of a trading party that plied up and down Washington and Oregon Coasts. I have never seen this spring - I would love it if you would display the whole collection. I would certainly come over the Mt for that! One last thing - he is wearing a wedding rig, so he must have met up with the missionaries at some point.
Jill Stanford on 22nd August 2016 @ 2:19pm
Curtis is another example of a man so dedicated to his passion that he maybe neglected his family responsibilities. But that very personality is the kind who created great results at the cost of family. Well worth it to read up and view his photos. I cringed to read that in the divorce settlement his wife gained control of his studio so he went in and destroyed his glass negatives.
nels on 22nd August 2016 @ 4:18pm
Curtis has this photo of Wind Mountain. It looks like it could be the same boat and paddle.
L.E. on 29th August 2016 @ 10:34pm