American artist Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953) spent his boyhood enacting scenes from James Fenimore Cooper’s epic saga about the early American frontier, The Leatherstocking Tales. Floating down the Ohio River on rafts, exploring caves supposedly haunted by Indian spirits, pretending to explore the vast territories of the great West – all of these were a part of the adventures Joseph Henry Sharp invented with his friends. Truly fascinated by the mystique of the American Indians, Sharp’s career as an artist would be dominated by his portraits and action scenes of Native Americans.
In spite of his innocent boyhood quests, Sharp’s full-bodied sensory experiences were cut short when he lost his hearing in an accident: at age 12, he came close to death when he fell from a bridge into a fast current, water seeping into his lungs and ears. As his world literally became deafeningly silent, Sharp’s interest in the Native Americans became increasingly compounded, and he spent many days in school immersed in his drawings of Indian war chiefs and Teepee communities.
Focusing primarily on the Taos Indians as subject matter, Sharp would develop a thematic thread in his work, depicting many Native American burial scenes in his paintings. His focus on this aspect of the Indian culture is thought to be representative of his longing to put a stop to the dying Indian way of life. Commissioned by the likes of President Theodore Roosevelt and Harper’s Weekly to depict the American Indian nation and peoples, Joseph Henry Sharp was responsible for preserving the culture with his highly realistic works.
Learn more about Joseph Henry Sharp’s background: check out our biographical video on the artist below.
Ackerman’s Fine Art is actively purchasing works by Taos Indian artist Joseph Henry Sharp. Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.