In 1904 Curtis photographed President Roosevelt's children. In 1906 at the inaugural parade of Roosevelt's second term, he photographed Geronimo and five other Indian chiefs on the White House lawn. Enthusiastic about outdoor living and beautiful things, Roosevelt recognizes Curtis' skills and recommends him to banker J. Pierpont Morgan.
Morgan enthusiastically agrees to fund Curtis' project of a set that describes and compares Indian tribes, illustrated with small photogravures within 31 x 24 cm text volumes and full-size sepia photogravures in 52 x 24 cm portfolios. The first volume is published in 1907. The full title is The North American Indian Being a Series of Volumes Picturing and Describing the Indians of the United States and Alaska.
Curtis will accomplish alone his enormous task as a field researcher and illustrator, apparently without fail in his friendly acceptance by the tribes. The original goal of a five year work is impossible to maintain. The series is completed in 1930 with 20 text volumes including 1503 photogravures and 20 portfolios including 723 photogravures without duplicates between the two sets of images.
Morgan had reserved the first copy for himself and the next 24 for donations to institutions. Number 11 was given by Morgan from 1908 to the Cooper Union Library. Remaining complete, it is estimated $ 1M for sale by Swann Galleries in New York on October 18, lot 57. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.