The American flag behind this poor Indian family gives the scene an added sense of poignancy and contrast. The image is one of the artist's seminal photographs of Indian life. Laura Gilpin, whom Ansel Adams called "one of the most important photographers of our time," was a true westerner, independent and self-reliant throughout a life often marked by difficulties and financial insecurities. Born in 1891 and raised in Colorado Springs, she began photographing in 1903 at the age of twelve and continued until her death in Santa Fe in 1979. As one of the few significant women landscape photographers in the history of photography, Gilpin photographed the American Southwest for more than sixty years, creating an extraordinary document of the land and its people. Turning away from pictorialism to sharp edged photography Gilpin focused on the Navajo. Here she helped create the language of environmental portraiture. In the silver print "Mrs. Francis Nakai and Son," 1932, a young mother wearing a magnificent striped blanket and traditional dress leans against a wall. Her little son wears western style clothes. With half smiles they appear to be waiting patiently for something.
Two decades later Gilpin again photographed Mrs. Francis Nakai in "A Navaho Family," 1950. In this somber portrait the mother, now aged and sad, sits with her husband and grandchildren under an American flag, given to the family after their son, the little boy in Gilpin's earlier photo, was killed in World War II. See: Gilpin, The Enduring Navaho, p.249; and Sandweiss, Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace, pl.116. Provenance: photographer directly to fellow photographer Eugene Groves in 1971.
Photo has had damage that has been retouched. Should be seen.
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Medium Silver print
Photo Date 1950 Print Date 1971>
Dimensions 13-1/4 x 10-1/2 in. (337 x 267 mm)
Photo Country United States (USA)
Photographer Country United States (USA)
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.