Carter B. Horsley
Sotheby's Spring 2006 auction
of American Indian
Art is very strong with some wonderful clothing and some marvelous
Tinglit objects, a fine Tsimshian mask and some excellent Hopi
Probably the most spectacular
piece is Lot
165, a magnificent Crow beaded and fringed man's coat that the
catalogue notes was "possibly inspired by a European frock
coat, decorated overall with yellow ochre, thread sewn innumerous
shades of opaque and outline white glass beads, in sport-stitch
and contour techniques, with stars and floral elements, trimmed
down the front with brass button and red silk ribbon pendants
against a green wool band edged in dark blue silk, red and blue
cloth trim on the cuffs and hemline.
The 37-inch-long coat has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It
sold for $20,400 including the buyer's premium as do all results
mentioned in this article. The sale totaled $4,532,402 with 183
of the 214 offered lots selling.
Another fine garment is Lot
157, a Southern
Plains beaded and fringed hide ghost dance shirt. Like Lot 165,
it is decorated with yellow ochre. The hide is painted in red
and green pigments with birds, probably crows, circles and
on the front and a cluster of stars on the back. The catalogue
entry notes that the Ghost Dance began after 1888 with many Plains
Indians on reverberations hoping for a return to their former
lives. Crows were the sacred bird of the Ghost Dance. The lots
an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $66,000.
Lot 153 is a very fine Southern
and fringed tunic and shirt, each 41 inches long, decorated overall
with yellow ochre, each painted with a board red vertical line.
The lot has an estimate of $35,000 to $55,000. It sold for
Another lovely garment is Lot
158, a Cheyenne
beaded hide dress with many fringes. It is decorated with three
tiers of cut hide pendants strung with large, faceted iridescent
glass beads and a beaded belt. It has a modest estimate of $7,000
to $10,000. It sold for $6,000.
Lot 159 is a beautiful Plateau
beaded and fringed
hide dress, probably Cayuse, that is 51 ¾ inches long.
It comes from the Sacajawea Museum in Spalding, Idaho. The catalogue
noes that it is "constructed with an elaborate yoke sewn
in numerous shades of opaque and translucent, and faceted iridescent
glass beads, with concentric bands, overlaid by a diamond medallion
beneath the collar, surmounting cut hide pendants strung with
tubular glass beads in red, yellow, and two shades of blue."
It has a modest estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for
An important group - lots 83
through 109 -
in the auction are objects from the John W. Painter Collection.
Lot 105 is a striking Sioux
beaded and quilled
hide tobacco bag with ochre pigment, decorated along the top and
sides with zigzag porcupine quillwork dyed purple, yellow and
faded green, a small quilled strike-a-light trimmed with tin cones
against the hide ground in the field above, the lower section
with tracked columns against a purple quilled ground the openwork
section of hide strips below wrapped in red, white, yellow and
faded bluish-green dyed porcupine quills, trimmed with twisted
fringe, each with a brass bead, tincone and dentalium shell suspension
with blue yarn, a German silver button attached at each side.
The lot has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for
Lot 106 is an excellent
Northern Plains beaded
hide pictorial gun case that is 46 ¾ inches long. The buffalo
hide case has a frieze of animals painted at one end with cut-hindering
along half of one edge. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
It sold for $9,600.
Lot 94 is a beautiful pair of
early Great Lakes
beaded cloth leggings, 27 inches long, of dark green worsted wool
trade cloth, decorated on the cuff with appliqued panels of deep
pink, bright yellow, forest green, and pale and dark blue silk
ribbon, cut in a diamond and scalloped pattern, additional ribbon
work panels at the midsection, decorated with overlaid appliquéd
diamond patterning against a red trade cloth ground, and stitched
with double curves and crisscross elements in white glass seed
beads, almost cylindrical in form, against an alternating deep
pink and rich green silk ground; silk-ribbon tassles and edging.
The leggings were collected circa 1830 by Sir John Colborne (later
Baron Seaton), who had served as Lieutenant Governor of Upper
Canada from 1828 to 1836 when he was appointed Commander of the
British Forces in Upper and Lower Canada (Quebec) and in that
capacity suppressed the Canadian Rebellions, 1837-1838, and then
became Governor General of Canada from 1838 to 1839. The lot has
a modest estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 101 is a rare Cheyenne
painted par fleche
envelope that measures 28 ½ by 16 inches. The lot has an
estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $57,000.
The auction contains a
selection of property
that Sotheby's said is "amongst the most historically significant
groups of American Indian art ever to be offered at auction."
The group comes from "the Earl of Southesk 1951 Settlement
Removed from Kinnaird Castle in Scotland.
"In 1858, James Carnegie, the
of Southesk, traveled to the United States andCanada from his
native Scotland, after being advised it would improve his health
that had deteriorated following the death of his wife….His
route…included traveling up the Athabasca River from Fort
Edmonton, across what is now called Southesk Pass, and down Job
Creek and Coral Creek to the Kootenay Plains of the Saskatchewan
The selection consists of 39
176 to 214.
Lot 183 is an "early and
Upper Missouri River man's quilled and pony beaded hide shirt
that the catalogue states is probably Blackfoot. The 57-inch-long
shirt is the cover illustration of the catalogue.
The front and back of the shirt
have a porcupine
quillwork disk in ivory and red, "each with an hourglass
design flanked by crosses," the catalogue noted, added that
"the rectangular bib composed of red wool cloth, trimmed
with human and horse hair pendants wrapped with quillwork; similar
hair pendants down each sleeve." The catalogue quotes one
expert as noting that among Blackfeet the fringes on the leggings
are locks of humanoid and "these identify the wear as a warrior
who was taken scalps."
The lot has an estimate of
$350,000 to $550,000.
It sold for $800,000.
Lot 203 is a lovely Early Upper
beaded hide dress collected from a Blood Indian. It is stitched
in white and bright blue glass pony beads with a concentric linear
pattern across the front and back of the bodice. The lot has an
estimate of $175,000 to $225,000. It sold for $497,600.
Lot 212 is a stunning Great
Lakes quilled hide
knife sheath, probably Huron, that is 9 ¼ inches long and
finely decorated in ivory, orange and blue porcupine quillwork
with an edge trimmed with tiny tin cone pendants inserted with
red-dyed deer fur. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It
sold for $66,000.
Another impressive knife sheath
is Lot 180,
an Upper Missouri River quilled, beaded and fringed hide knife
sheath that is 11 7/8 inches long. Stitched in ivory, red, blue
and purple porcupine quillwork in edging, plaited and linear
with a series aggravated checkered squares, enclosed by concentric
bands, trimmed along one edge with lohng hide pendants, wrapped
in quillwork in similar colors, decorated with blue and white
glass seed beads, and tied at the ends with red, green and yellow
dyed horse hair tassles.
The lot has an estimate of
$30,000 to $40,000.
The auction also includes a
- lots 64 through 82 - of Kachina dolls from the Alan Kessler
Lot 64 is a fine Hopi
polychrome wood Kachina
doll, 10 ¾ inches high, depictingtheShalako Mana, of highly
stylized form, standing on squat legs. Kachinas, the catalogue
explains, are "spirit supernaturals, once of this world"
who live in an underworld with Hopi ancestors and who are supposed
to reappear in the first half of the year when they are personated
The lot has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for
Lot 69 is another Hopi
doll. The 15 ¼-inch-high figure holds a spotted lizard
in its mouth and has exaggerated ears. It is attributed to Wilson
Tawaquaptewa who was born in 1873 into the Bear Clan of the Hopi
village ofOraibi on the Third Mesa in northeastern Arizona. In
1904, Tawauqaptewa became village chief and remained so until
his death in1960s except, the catalogue notes "for a few
interruptions related to political imprisonment or to health problems."
He was the leader of the Friendlies who supported cooperation
between the Hopi and the United States Government. His dolls,
the catalogue continued, "are now valued by collectors and
museums for their quirky creativity, the distorted realism and
their artistic presence." The lot has an estimate of $20,000
to $30,000. It sold for $21,600.
Lot 76 is an early Hopi
polychromed wood Kachina
doll, 18 ¾ inches high, depicting Whinru, wearing red boots,
a white kilt, and woven red, green and white sash, with exaggerated
snout and "pop" eyes, decorated with large stars on
the cheeks and surmounted by a cap with horns, attached with dyed
turkey feather pendants. The lot has an estimate of $70,000 to
$100,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 82 is a Zuni polychrome
wood Kachina set
depicting the "Greasy Boys," each carved in naturalistic
form with articulated limbs secured with iron nails, one carrying
the other on its back. The set is 10 ¼ inches high. It
has an estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 44 is a wonderful, early
Salish sheep horn
rattle that is 13 ¾ inches long without the wool trim.
Traditional Salish horn carving, according to the catalogue, probably
ended by 1900 and the Cowichan and Central Coast Salish peoples
used such rattles "during potlatches and winter dances."
It is composed of a wood handle, carved with a mask-like face,
with flaring nostrils, ovoid eyes, inset with abalone plaques,
beneath wide arching brows, expanding to a born 'pillow form'
head, each side finely carved in deep relief with a humanoid face,
one side with additional shell decoration to resemble teeth, the
sides perforated for attachments and trimmed with long twisted
pendants of mountain sheep wool." The lot has an estimate
of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $102,000.
Another major group in the
auction - lots 1
through 63 - comes from the Collection of Fred Boschan and the
Mimi Boschan Trust.
Lot 18 is a fine Tlingit
polychromed wood shaman's
crown decorated with a series of small masks surmounted by a long
curving section resembling a goat horn. The object was collected
by George Emmons on Admiralty Island 1882-7 and was once in the
collection of the American Museum of Natural History and the Dresden
Museum in Germany. It has an estimate of $15,000 to$20,000. It
failed to sell.
Lot 23 is an early Tlingit
shaman's ceremonial dance rattle that is 13 inches long and was
possibly collected, according to the catalogue, by I. G. Voznesenskii
in northern Southeast Alaska, 1839-1849. It was once in the collection
of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and Adelaide
DeMenil and Edmund Carpenter. The rattle is in the form of a bird
in flight with a shaman's figure resting on the bird's back with
hands grasping the exaggerated tongue emerging from the mouth
of a mounting goat. The lot has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000.
It sold for $150,000.
Lot 36 is a fine Tlingit
polychromed wood headdress
carved with a straight-beaked bird, probably a raven, a secondary
figure with humanoid characteristics between its outspread wings,
decorated with abalone shell plaques. The headdress measures 7
3/16 by 6 ½ inches. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.
It sold for $51,000.