Joseph, Chief of the Nez Percé Indians

Artist: Olin Levi Warner (American, West Suffield, Connecticut 1844–1896 New York)

Date: 1889; cast 1906

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: Other (Object diameter): 17 1/2in. (44.5cm)
Framed: 22 × 2 in., 16 lb. (55.9 × 5.1 cm, 7.3 kg)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick S. Wait, 1906

Accession Number: 06.313


Chief Joseph (ca. 1840–1904), also known as Hinmahtoo-yahlatkekht (“Thunder Rolling in the Mountains”), was hailed for his dignified leadership of the Nez Percé during settlement disputes with the United States government in the 1870s. Charles Erskine Scott Wood, Warner’s loyal patron, arranged for Joseph to pose for the sculptor in Portland, Oregon, in 1889. Warner had aspired to model Indian portraits since the early 1880s, a desire fulfilled on this trip and on another in 1891. Joseph’s impressive profile reveals alert eyes, a hawkish nose, and somewhat loose flesh that captures subtleties of light and shadow.