John H. Fitzgibbon (American, born Britain, 1816–1882)
Image: 17.9 x 14.8 cm (7 1/16 x 5 13/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005
Not on view
From 1846 to 1860, John Fitzgibbon operated one of America's most prominent daguerreian establishments in the frontier city of Saint Louis, Missouri. Fitzgibbon learned photography in 1839 while apprenticed as a saddler in Philadelphia, but he is best known for his studio portraits and scenes of regional life in the territories west of the Mississippi River. This daguerreotype of Kno-Shr, a Kansa, is one of the few dated pre-Civil War portraits of a Native American whose name and tribe are known. The chief is shown bare-chested, wearing a traditional grizzly bear claw necklace, the most coveted of all Plains Indian body ornaments. Several details are handcolored with red paint, the color of strength and success and a powerful agent to ward off evil spirits. Made during the height of the country's territorial expansion beyond the Mississippi, the photograph is remarkable as a document of a Native American before assimilation.
Inscription: Inscribed on plate and accompanying label: "Kno-Shr Kansas Chief—Daguerreotyped by Fitzgibbon, Presented to G.V. Brooke by F.H. Fitzgibbon—St. Louis, April 4, 1853." Legend and information about Kansas Indian Tribe handwritten inside daguerreotype case under portrait (signed EWH-1893)
[Daniel Wolf]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, October 28, 1981
Princeton University Library. "The Photograph and the American Indian," September 5, 1985–January 12, 1986.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Art of Photography 1839-1989," February 4, 1989–April 30, 1989.
National Gallery of Australia. "The Art of Photography 1839-1989," June 17, 1989–August 27, 1989.
Royal Academy of Arts. "The Art of Photography 1839-1989," September 23, 1989–December 23, 1989.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
Smithsonian American Art Museum. "Secrets of the Dark Chamber: The Art of the American Daguerreotype," June 30, 1995–October 29, 1995.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Old Faces and Places: American Photographs, 1845-1870," February 3, 2004–April 25, 2004.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 40," April 19, 2005–July 10, 2005.
Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. no. 83.
Weaver, Mike, ed. The Art of Photography, 1839–1989. New Haven: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1989. no. 26.
Wood, John, ed. The Daguerreotype: A Sesquicentennial Celebration. 1st ed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989. no. 14.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 87.
Foresta, Merry A., and John Wood. Secrets of the Dark Chamber: The Art of the American Daguerreotype. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1995. p. 32.