Reeves Collection Of Indian Artwork Offered In Heritage Ethnographic Art Auction

Art Daily
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A Nez Perce or Blackfeet Bear Warrior Society Shirt (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

DALLAS, TX.- A collection carefully curated over more than half a century will make up nearly half of the lots in Heritage Auctions’ Ethnographic Art Auction May 29 in Dallas, Texas.

Keith and Sara Reeves have spent more than 50 years researching, discussing and hunting for artwork, with the goals of not only expanding but also raising the quality of their Florida-based collection. Many of those items now will be available to the public through Heritage’s Ethnographic Art: American Indian, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Auction Featuring the I.S.K. Reeves V and Sara W. Reeves Collection. Keith Reeves acknowledged that he and Sara expect to find it tough to part with many of the items in a collection they have spent much of their lives building.

“Keith Reeves has a file and a collection tag for each item,” Heritage Auctions Senior Ethnographic Art Specialist Delia Sullivan said. “The material being offered at auction will be sold with those tags, indicating it is from the I.S.K. Reeves V and Sara W. Reeves Collection.”

Among the sale’s top lots from the Reeves Collection are:

• A Nez Perce or Blackfeet Bear Warrior Society Shirt (estimate: $20,000-30,000) was a gift in the 1940s to acclaimed Western artist Bernard Thomas from the Crow, who gave him gifts and artifacts because they admired the accurate way in which he depicted them; he also gave food and money to tribe members who needed it, asking nothing in return. The Crow presented the shirt to Thomas in a bonnet case used for a head dress and wrapped it inside with a red linen shirt from the late 1800s.

• A Southern Cheyenne Ledger Drawing by Howling Wolf (estimate: $15,000-25,000), a warrior who was a member of Black Kettle’s band and was present at the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado. After being imprisoned in the Fort Marion in Saint Augustine, Fla., in 1875, Howling Wolf became a renowned artist in the style that came to be known as Ledger art for the accounting ledger books in which the drawings were done.

• A Cheyenne Beaded Hide Baby Carrier c. 1900 (estimate: $7,000-10,000), measuring 43-1/2 inches and made from hide, glass seed beads, sinew and brass tacks.

• A Northwest Coast Polychrome Wood Mask (estimate: $5,000-7,000)

The Reeves Collection also includes three Navajo Germantown weavings, brightly colored rugs that have been called “eyedazzlers” because the overall design quality literally dazzles the eye with a feeling of motion, a characteristic unique to Navajo textiles. The finely and tightly woven pre-dyed wool was prepared in Germantown, Pa., and supplied to Navajo by traders on or near the reservation.

Among the top lots in the sale from other consignors is a Rare Crow Beaded Cloth Cradleboard c. 1880(estimate: $60,000-80,000) is an example of classic Crow beadwork, a style that began in the mid- to late 19th century. Cradleboards like this one often were created by the expectant mother’s mother, mother-in-law, aunt or friend. A male member of the family or friend often created the wooden foundation, but then the women usually undertook the creation of the beaded cover, tie bands and other parts. As is the case in the offered example, cradleboards often included two or three pairs of tapering, fully-beaded straps which secured the baby within the buckskin sack. A long band of buckskin, attached to two points on the back of the cradleboard, allowed the mother to carry her child on her back or to hang the cradleboard from a tree branch, peg or from the pommel of her horse’s saddle.

• A Sioux Quilled Hide Jacket Belonging to Chief Rain-In-The-Face (estimate: $20,000-30,000) has natural and dyed porcupine quills. Chief Rain-In-The-Face was a war chief from the Lakota tribe, and was among the Indian leaders who defeated George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment at the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn. A famous cabinet card features Chief Rain-In-The-Face wearing this very coat!

• A Large and Important Gran Coclé Gold Pendant (estimate: $20,000-30,000) is a superb cast tumbaga pendant in form of a male holding a hollow cone-shaped object (possibly a drum) at his waist and a long thin rod up to his mouth with his other hand. He is naked except for a five-strand bead necklace, and unusual human heads at his knees. Serpent heads emerge from each side of his head and from the outside of each knee. He is framed by a magnificent braided arch with 12 nearly identical curly-tailed animals climbing to face each other at top. The pendant includes a loop on the back through which a cord can be strung to suspend it.

• A Navajo Late Classic Serape c. 1880 (estimate: $15,000-20,000) is a stunning, brightly colored piece measuring just over 6 feet long (73-1/2 by 51 inches), made from native handspun wool and indigo and colored with aniline dyes. Serapes originally were worn in Mexico, especially by men. They can vary in size, but when worn, the front and back typically reach knee height on an average person.

• A Large Santa Clara Carved Blackware Wedding Jar by Margaret Tafoya (estimate: $15,000-20,000) stands 19-1/2 inches high. The daughter of expert potters, Tafoya is considered one of the most famous and influential Pueblo Indian artists, known for her ability to make unusually large storage jars and water jars. She received the Governor’s Award in 1985, one of three New Mexicans to earn the state’s highest artistic honor that year.

• A Santa Clara Carved Redware Jar by Margaret Tafoya (estimate: $8,000-10,000)

• An Important Nasca Tunic Peru, c. 100 BC-800 AD (estimate: $7,000-10,000)