By John Wesley Jarvis (ca. 1780-1839)
Oil on canvas
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Okla.
“The noble savage” is fully evident in this grand portrait. Much more here too, the evidence of merging cultures, the sensitive portrayal of two very strong personalities as HUMAN.
Back in the dark ages, I worked on the street for Episcopal Social Services. One day I watched as a man of tall, proud, fierce and grey haired countenance strode into the office. He walked over to a dark, dirty, hunched over figure splayed out on a chair. There were tears in the old man’s eyes as he reached down and literally picked up the broken soul.
Once I could see the two faces together, it was obvious….father and son. It was a Cheyenne Chief come to collect his broken child.
That image and the cultural implications still haunt me.
Sven, that is a tragic story, and one I fear often repeated in the history of the native peoples of this land.
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