Presenting Lovely Attire
COLLECTOR UPDATE: Lovely Attire has been sold.
Available now: A stunning image of a young Blackfoot woman resplendent in ceremonial dress
Lovely Attire depicts a c. 1880s young woman of the Blackfoot tribe dressed in all her finery. Such apparel would be appropriate for a formal or ceremonial occasion, such as a Sun Dance ceremony.
Lovely Attire is loosely based on a young woman who modeled for me in Flagstaff a decade ago.
The woman pictured in Lovely Attire is wearing dentalium shell earrings. Dentalium shell is a type of ancient mollusk seashell and has traditionally been associated with wealth among the Plains peoples. Blackfeet women wore such earrings on special occasions.
You can see that the woman does not have on an “everyday” dress—the wearer wouldn’t be preparing food or hides in such an elaborate garment.
The blue, white, and red stripes on her dress represent fine beading with glass seed beads. Beads were obtained through trade and painstakingly applied by the women of the tribe to ceremonial and other garments.
Her belt is embellished with brass “spots”—a popular adornment for belts, headdresses, and other significant accessories. (You can see examples made of brass spots used to enhance headdresses on The Chief’s New Gun and on Display of Eminence.)
I explain to beginning art collectors that when looking at a painting’s composition, you can try looking past the literal, thematic elements and focus instead on the lines, shapes, values, and colors. Such components give a painting rhythm and movement and can be configured by an artist in an infinite number of ways.
For example, in this painting, if you gaze at the big shapes (unfocusing your eyes a bit helps here), you can see that many of the painting’s details go into shadow and the lines of this painting converge towards the main focal point: the subject’s face.
The light shining on the left side of the subject’s face further serves to bring the viewer’s eyes to the woman’s calming facial expression and gaze. Chiaroscuro, or the use of transition from light to dark, helps to enhance the three-dimensionality of her face.
Notice how the top area of the background helps to bring the woman’s head and body to the forefront with the lightness of the background near her dark braided hair. In contrast, the bottom section of the background reverses to darker tones. This transition is akin to the the lightness of sky and darkness of land and gives the painting a sense of “grounding.”
Lovely Attire is available at the Legacy Gallery, my representative in Scottsdale and Jackson Hole.
If you are interested in adding Lovely Attire to your collection, please contact Legacy Gallery to learn more.