Edward S. Curtis American, 1868-1952

Vintage Prints

Edward S. Curtis was a master photoengraver, photographer and printer of stunning technical virtuosity. From 1900 to 1914, his mastery of the grandest pictorial style and technique in his photogravures and silver and platinum prints was rivaled only by the most elegant prints of Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz. By 1907 Edward S. Curtis was the most famous and popular photographer in the country much as Ansel Adams became later in the 20th century.


Curtis employed an unusually wide variety of photographic processes. His vintage body of photographic work includes Albumen Prints (gold-toned printing out paper prints); Platinum Prints, Gelatin Silver Prints; Blue Toned Silver Prints; Collodian Silver Prints, Cyanotypes; Glass Lantern Slides; Goldtones (known also Curt-tones and Orotones); Glass Negatives; original Photogravure Prints; and the original Copper Photogravure Printing Plates for The North American Indian. It should be noted, that while Curtis produced photographic work in all the above processes, more than 98 percent of his vintage prints were Photogravures.


Curtis did print a very small body of his earliest and finest negatives in albumen, platinum, and silver mediums specifically for personal exhibitions and sale elite patrons. Most notable is his body of work done in platinum prints, now known as his Master Exhibition Prints, solely produced for his 1905 - 1906 East Coast Exhibition Tour and for patron J.P. Morgan. 


In these Master Prints, Curtis's technical virtuosity is seen hallmarked by tremendous subtlety, delicacy, and richness. They are his greatest images executed in the most dramatic, challenging processes of photographic expression.