Burbank's Indian Portraits

"No, painting Indians is not the easiest thing in the world, but during the last seven years I have grown to think it the most interesting," says E. A. Burbank, who has done more than any other artist to preserve accurate records of the faces and costumes of these vanishing races. The faces are frequently hidden under thick paint, but that, too, is part of the costume, every color and every stripe having its own symbolism. If the latest order from Washington goes into effect, forbidding our red-skinned wards to loaf and invire their soul with blanket and pigment, Burbank's faithful presentments of barbaric bedizenments will have an even greater ethnological value than they have today.

With the skill of a Munich-trained man he has painted portraits of all the famous chiefs still living, and every one knows that there are not likely to he any more famous chiefs when these are gone. He has painted Characteristic types from Rain-in-the-Face, the Sioux warrior who will wear only civilized policeman's uniform, to Black-Coyote of the Arrapahoes, hallaude with his war-paint and feathers. Or Chief Tal-Klai of the Apaches, with his rugged face framed in heavy black hair and no gewgaws but a string of beads and silver ornaments, and a handsome blanket thrown over his soulders. He has lived among the Cheyennes, Comanches, Kiowas, Foxes, Modocs, Pueblos, Navajos, and all the rest of them. He has learned in part their languages, and quite thoroughly the universal language of signs. He has had assistance and introductions from military men, many of whom are learned in Indian lore.

When he could not get a shelter at a post or a trader's house, he has slept with six Indians on the floor of a hut, or made his overcoat his pillow in the open. When the railroad went no further, he rode two hundred miles on horesback (sic) with an Apache trailer for guide.? Many is the tramp he has had to take on foot. "I'll never forget once when the thermometer stood at 116 in the shade and I was carrying my stretchers and whole outfit to paint in Indian who refused to sit at the last moment. - Isabel McDougall in The Pilgrim for September.

Portsmouth Herald (NH)

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