Washington/California, 1868-1952

"An Oasis in the Badlands", 1905.

Printed in 2002 by The Curtis Centennial Project, Inc. Signed lower right in the plate "Curtis" with "CCCP 1998" notation. Curtis Centennial Project label with handwritten studio notations including the title, size, dates and edition "25/75" affixed verso. Housed in a batwing frame.
Orotone, 7.5" x 9.25". Framed 11.5" x 13.5".
Condition: No obvious damages.

The absence of a condition report does not imply an object is free of defects. All items may have normal signs of age and wear commensurate with their age; these issues will likely not be mentioned in the condition report. Please contact Eldred's before the auction with any condition questions. Questions about condition will not be answered after purchase. Condition reports are provided as a courtesy, and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Important note on frames: Frames are not guaranteed to be in the same condition as they are in the item photograph. Due to handling and shipping, many frames, especially antique ones, are prone to losses. If you have questions about the condition of a frame, please contact us prior to the auction. 

  • Provenance:
    The Property of a Gentleman: The Estate of Peter Goldstein.

    Orotones, also known as D'Orotones or goldtones, are positive images printed on glass and backed with a golden metallic coating. This lustrous reflective coating, combined with the natural refraction of the glass, provides an exceptional translucency and sense depth to the image, "as full of life and sparkle as an opal," as Curtis said in 1919. He marketed them as "Curt-Tones" and they are the most desirable and valuable of all his prints.

    Curtis is sometimes credited with inventing the orotone technique, but the process he used was based upon well-known methods of creating images on glass. The "Curt-Tone" method seems to have been perfected sometime in the second half of 1918, and in February of the following year, Curtis held his first exhibition of orotone prints in Los Angeles.

    The style was particularly suited to Curtis's images of Native Americans. He made his first portrait of a Native American in 1895, when he photographed Princess Angeline, also known as Kickisomlo, the daughter of Chief Sealth of Seattle. Curtis was part of expeditions to Alaska in 1899 and the the Blackfoot Confederacy in Montana in 1900, and then was awarded $75,000 by J.P. Morgan to produce a 20-volume series "The North American Indian", an epic project that lasted more than 20 years. Curtis traveled the United States and visited at least 80 tribes, documenting tribal history, biographies, traditional foods, housing, garments, recreation and ceremonial customs through more than 10,000 recordings of Native American language and music and 40,000 photographic images.

    Curtis was largely forgotten at the time of his death, though interest in his work was revived in the 1970s. While his work is considered a precursor in visual anthropology, some criticize him for conforming to cultural archetypes of the romanticized "noble savage" and the tragically "vanishing race". Regardless, when judged by the standards of his era, Curtis was sensitive and open to Native American culture, and his work left an enduring mark on the history of photography.

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