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According to Marie Watkins, “As early as 1904, Sharp found himself having to explain to his patrons, as well as reassure them, that Indian portraiture would continue to be an important part of his broadening repertoire: ‘Now that I have more time, I shall devote much of it to compositions & pictures of the poetry & legends as well as the home life of the Indians at present. There is a vast field & beautiful subjects for fine pictures as well as of historical & ethnological value. Of course, I will make portraits of the most important living men the principal aim. The other is important too, & the material I gather for such pictures will come in fine by and by when I am done with the old fighters, or when they are no more.’

“With quiet stillness in the narrow stage-like space positioned parallel to the picture plane, Sharp painted the scene as though it was taking place in the black of night. Warm firelight polishes the skin of Hunting Son’s back, moves up to the top of his neck, splashes against his right cheek, and strokes his outstretched left hand holding an eagle wing fan. The model’s spectral shadow dances against ancestral horsemen riding across the painted deerskin teepee liner. As in many of Sharp’s compositions, the source of the light is hidden. Within this mélange of light and shadow, physical forms take shape and dissolve, revealing and concealing Sharp’s love of genre detail.

“Painted with a sense of scientific observation—the feather bonnet, drum, catlinite pipe, eagle wing fan, hide teepee liner, breechcloth and leggings—these historical details made the scene look real, enabling the viewer to imaginatively invest in the painting. The intimate interior space also pulls the viewer close. With much located in the foreground, the barrier between the painting’s space and viewer’s space breaks down. The viewer feels seated in the teepee with Hunting Son. This was the “art subject” as opposed to Sharp’s earlier ethnographic ideas of preserving the Indian portraits for their historic value when they would no longer exist.”

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