Charles Craig Indian Chief Portrait Painting, ca. 1910
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:29)
Paintings & Drawings
Owner and President
Harwood Fine Arts, Inc.
GUEST: It came from my grandmother's estate in Colorado Springs. It was passed down to my father. It was about the only thing that he got from her estate. I've had it approximately eight years since my father passed away. I looked up Charles Craig. I believe he was born in Ohio, 1846, somewhere around there. He traveled to the West and was a 50-year resident of Colorado Springs, where he painted Indian tribes, and my grandmother probably bought it directly from him.
APPRAISER: Craig was indeed from Ohio. When he was a very young man, less than 20, he actually traveled west and spent about four years living with various Indian tribes, sketching and learning about their culture. He was very, very, very fascinated by them and he was something of an adventurer to do that. He apparently decided he needed more formal artistic training, because he returned east and he studied at several of the more well known academies, but did ultimately go back to the West. He was in New Mexico for a time. He spent most of his career in Colorado Springs. And he's very typical of one particular branch of the American painting school of the Southwest, because he was quite interested in ethnographic accuracy. Many of the painters painted sort of romanticized versions of things. So you had a couple of questions.
GUEST: I'd like to find out if we know who this Indian chief is. The other thing is, there's a few white spots on there. Are those damage to the canvas or is it paint spackle from my mother?
APPRAISER: Well, truthfully, I was going to ask you if you knew what those were,
APPRAISER: because they are a little distracting.
GUEST: I'm not absolutely sure what that is.
APPRAISER: My advice to you, because it's such a beautiful painting and it's otherwise in excellent condition, would be to consult with a painting conservator and just ask them to look at those and figure out what's going on. I'm pretty confident they can be eliminated easily, regardless of what they are, but that would be a benefit to the picture.
APPRAISER: As far as the identity of this fellow is concerned, I had a really interesting consultation with two of my colleagues. Craig is most closely identified with the Utes of southwestern Colorado, where he spent a lot of time. So I thought, logical to think you'd start there. Apparently not. My colleagues tell me that this war bonnet is typical of the Plains tribes and probably the Sioux. And further, that the paint he's wearing on his face is not identifiable paint but what we would call personal paint.
APPRAISER: And that he's probably an idealized figure as opposed to a specific individual.
APPRAISER: Also, in my experience-- and they've confirmed this for me, too-- if you're dealing with a portrait of a very specific person, they're often inscribed with the name on the back. As far as the date that this painting might have been done, it's difficult to say, because he did have a 50-year career in Colorado Springs and his subject matter was consistent, and he died, I believe, in 1930 or somewhere around there, when he was quite an elderly fellow, so I think he could have painted this any time from 1900 into the '20s, certainly. I think a very fair auction estimate on this painting would be between $5,000 and $7,000. That might be a little conservative, but I think it's fair.
GUEST: Okay, that's wonderful.
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