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This digital presentation draws upon an exhibition presented by the Library in 1994, Four Hundred Years of Native-American Portraits, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery of the Americas. Offering a selective view of the history of Native American portraiture, drawn exclusively from the Library's collections, it reprised an earlier Library exhibition held in the then-new landmark building on Fifth Avenue in 1912. In that same year the last of the contiguous United States territories achieved statehood, a political act that symbolically and literally closed the "frontier" phase of United States history.
The New York Public Library's collection of Native American portraiture has its foundation in early gifts and purchases from Dr.Wilberforce Eames, the Library's bibliographer and former Librarian of the Lenox Library, and from J. P. Morgan, who helped sponsor Edward S. Curtis's monumental survey, The North American Indian (1907-30). Curtis's extensive series had precedents in several earlier works, notably those by Karl Bodmer and George Catlin both of whose drawings from the early 1830s were published later as color prints.
"Exhibition of Portraits of American Indians"; Bulletin of The New York Public Library 16 (1912): 451-53.
"Four Hundred Years of Native-American Portraits: Prints and Photographs from the Collections of The New York Public Library." Biblion II, 1 (Fall 1993): 100–140, illus.
Weitenkampf, Frank. Early Pictures of North American Indians: A Question of Ethnology (1950).