1929 Portfolio of Blackfoot Indian Portraits

My notes say this portfolio, which is from the Spokane Public Library Northwest Collection, was published in 1929, which is probably based on the tattered envelope the portfolio came in. The railway gave much greater care to this portfolio, which includes eight paintings by Winold Reiss and four by Langdon Kihn, than to Kihn’s solo portfolio, not only printing in color but mounting the paintings on gold paper that was then mounted on a black background as opposed to the nondescript grey background of the Kihn portfolio.

This painting by Winold Reiss truly humanizes its subject. Compare with the Langdon Kihn paintings on pages 13 and 15 of the portfolio, which look more like paintings of a costume with part of a face glued on top. Click image to download a 9.9-MB PDF of 12 prints.

While Louis Hill may have learned about Langdon Kihn’s paintings as early as 1921, he wasn’t introduced to Winold Reiss until 1925, when Reiss’ brother wrote Hill asking the tycoon to sponsor a second trip to Glacier, where Reiss could complete more Indian portraits. Hill not only agreed to support a 1927 trip, he purchased 51 paintings that Reiss completed that season. Reiss visited Glacier for many years after that, and Hill continued to purchase most of his Blackfoot paintings.

Click image to download this 1.2-MB PDF of this 16-page exhibit catalog, which was scanned by the Worcester Art Museum and is available in other formats from archive.org.

Hill immediately sent his 51 new paintings on an exhibition tour accompanied by the above catalog, which reprints six of the paintings and lists all 51. Among the places exhibiting the paintings were the Belmaison Galleries at John Wanamaker’s in New York (April 14-May 5), the Denver Art Museum, the Boston Art Club (December 5-20), and the Art Institute of Chicago (December 27-January 31, 1929). The above catalog is from the Worcester (Massachusetts) Art Museum, which had hosted the exhibition on November 4-25, 1928. The catalog doesn’t mention the museum, indicating that it was generically used by all museums and galleries that hosted the exhibition.

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