Simon Harmon Vedder (American, 1866-1937, Sioux Indians Going to Pow Wow
Simon Harmon Vedder (American, 1866-1937)
Sioux Indians Going to Pow Wow
Signed 'Simon Harmon Vedder' and dated '1922' l.r.
Oil on canvas
Canvas size: 28" x 45 ½"
Frame size: 33 ½" x 50 ¾"
Provenance: General August Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers (1827-1900)
This vibrant work, painted by Simon Harmon Vedder more than thirty years after the Battle of Wounded Knee ended all Sioux attempts at resistance to the inevitable encroachment of white settlers on their lands, is a quintessential expression of early twentieth-century nostalgia for a vanished American frontier. Vedder shows a band of Sioux on horseback, in full ceremonial headdress and garb, thundering through an arid desert landscape. The impressionistic painting style is perfectly suited to evoking the rushing movement of the scene depicted, and the atmosphere is highly evocative of the Far West. A golden light seems to bathe the Indians as they charge through the desert, kicking up a hazy cloud of dust behind them.
Vedder's painting skills were honed in the most noted art academies in the United States and Europe. Born in New York in 1866, he studied art in New York at the Metropolitan Museum School, and in Paris at the Académie Julian and École des Beaux-Arts. In the French capital, Vedder worked under such established painters as William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Robert Fleury, and Albert Gleize. his artistic education under Bouguereau has been discussed in James F. Peck's recent catalogue for an exhibition held at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma: In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau and His American Students (2006). Vedder's talents were recognized officially when he was awarded an honorable mention at the prestigious Paris Salon in 1899, and a medal for the work he exhibited at the Crystal Palace in London. Besides painting original oils such as the present example, Vedder was known for his work as an illustrator for such noted publications as the 1922 edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott.
The provenance of this painting is also worthy of note. The original collector, General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers, is widely considered the father of British archaeology. In 1880, following a decorated military career, Pitt Rivers unexpectedly inherited the substantial Rivers estate and name from his great uncle. His collection of archaeological and ethnographic objects, which he had begun to amass during his military postings in Europe, Malta, and the Crimea, rapidly grew once his inheritance granted him the resources to fully dedicate himself to his interest. In 1882 he was appointed the first Inspector of Ancient Monuments and in 1881-2 he was President of the Anthropological Institute. Pitt Rivers soon exhausted the space available in his own house to show his collections, and in 1884, 20,000 objects were donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum, which he founded at Oxford University.