Wild West Show Group of Photographs by Prince Roland Bonaparte, Featuring Previously Unknown Portrait of Annie Oakley
Lot of 5, featuring 4 albumen photographs possibly taken during the Paris tour of the Wild West Show in 1889, each approx. 6.25 x 9 in., on 11.75 x 15.75 in. mounts. Two of the mounts include the Prince Roland Bonaparte Collection blindstamp. The centerpiece of the group is a previously unknown photograph of Annie Oakley posed sidesaddle on her horse in an outdoor setting.
A second outdoor photograph captures a group of four people standing outside a makeshift structure. The boy at left has been tentatively identified as Jimmy Nelson, the youngest son of one of Buffalo Bill's managers, John Young Nelson and his Oglala wife. The man beside him, wearing the homburg, appears to be Jule Keen, treasurer of the Wild West. We have not been able to identify the Oglala to the right of Keen or the mustached cowboy.
Studio portraits of an unidentified Lakota Indian and a left-profile view of a white man wearing a fringed jacket, possibly Wild West Show performers, are also included in this small, but important group.
Accompanied by a cloth covered portfolio with gilt title, Collection Anthropologique du Prince Roland Bonaparte/ Peaux Rouges/ N 78/ Offert A Monsieur de Quatrefages. The "Peaux Rouges" is one of several albums that were part of Bonaparte's "Anthropological Collection." The bulk of the collection consisted of individual portraits of various indigenous people, such as the "Peaux Rouges" (Omaha Indians), "Hindous" (Hindu), "Hottentot" (Khoikhoi), etc. The portraits were executed in anthropomorphic manner (front and profile).
Bonaparte donated a few of the albums and portfolios to institutions, such as the "Societe Geographique," and he evidently presented this portfolio, No. 78, to Monsieur de Quatrefages. Jean-Louis Armand de Quatrefages (1810-1892) was a prominent French biologist, zoologist, and anthropologist who focused his research on the human "race." He is one of the first who outlined anthropomorphic method to photograph individuals, favoring front and profile only portraits, to obtain a clear and visual idea of proportions. He also encouraged the creation of albums, which were to function as collections of human types. Quatrefages was an important influence on Bonaparte's work.
Although the portfolio cover was found with the photographs, it appears to have no direct relationship with the images. Research indicates that Bonaparte was present during the 1889 Wild West Show in Paris to "question and measure the Cheyenne and Sioux who took part in the show" (see "Ethnographic Showcases," by Raymond Corbey, published in Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, No. 3, 1993, p. 357). Thus, he most likely photographed Oakley and others working for the Wild West Show at the same time.
Some toning to the photographs but they are in overall good condition.