Joe Black Fox, Sioux Indian

Joe Black Fox, Sioux Indian

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In 1898 New York photographer Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934) embarked on a deeply personal project, creating a set of prints that rank among the most compelling of her celebrated body of work. Käsebier was on the threshold of a career that would establish her as both the leading portraitist of her time and an extraordinary art photographer. Her new undertaking was inspired by viewing the grand parade of Buffalo Bill's Wild West troupe en route to Madison Square Garden for several weeks of performances.
Käsebier had spent her childhood on the Great Plains, and retained many vivid, happy memories of playing with nearby Native American children. She quickly sent a letter to William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917), requesting permission to photograph in her studio the Sioux Indians traveling with the show. Within weeks, Käsebier began a unique and special project photographing the Indian men, women, and children formally and informally. Friendships developed, and her photography of these Native Americans continued for more than a decade.
In his photographs, Joe Black Fox seems quite at ease with Käsebier and being in front of a camera. Black Fox almost smiles for the portraits. This is generally uncharacteristic for Native Americans. In 1898 many still believed in the power of the lens to steal their soul. Black Fox poses first in his feather headdress and then playfully, with cigarette in hand, relaxed and wrapped in a blanket. He wears a patterned silken scarf with a pin and earrings, and a beaded, lizard-shaped ornament in his hair.
Currently not on view
Object Name
platinum print
Date made
ca 1898
Kasebier, Gertrude
Physical Description
platinum print (overall production method/technique)
paper (overall material)
overall: 20.2 cm x 15.1 cm; 7 15/16 in x 5 15/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Mina Turner
Native Americans
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Gertrude Kasebier
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I saw a colorized version painted by someone who painted pictures of Indians for a living. Now I wonder if he spent time living with the Sioux or with the Indians who were part of Buffalo Bills show. The picture is is identical to Miss Kasebier but the only difference is color. I saw the picture on PBS 's Antique Road Show.

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