Published: April 19, 2021
CINCINNATI – Cowan’s April 16 Native American Art sale was led by a Cheyenne River pictorial tobacco bag attributed to Edith Claymore (Miniconjou, 1858-1910), which brought $100,000. The bag was made of tanned deer hide sewn with sinew and included beadwork in red, blue, green, yellow and white. The images included a buck on one side and a grazing doe on the other, the beadwork depicting warriors on horseback.
The auction house noted that the bag is likely from the same hand as an example held in the collection of the State Historical Society of North Dakota and it is similar to another in the Denver Museum of Natural History. It had been featured in a 1990 article in American Indian Art Magazine.
Cowan’s produced an auction record for any tobacco bag when the firm sold the Sioux Elk Dreamer Society tobacco bag for $131,250 in its September 2020 sale.
Asked what pushes these bags to that uppermost level, director of Cowan’s Native American art department, Danica Farnand, said it was the level of pictorial work. “It is the imagery,” she said. “The more images on the bag, the better it is. If you look at the Dreamer Society bag, there were three sets of images: the main panel, one set above it, and even another tier right at the opening. The Cheyenne River bag was two-tier, and what I really liked about this was the doe and the buck on it. There was definitely a connection with the animal and the way the animal is moving.”
Farnand said she had five phone bidders on it, including the buyer of the Dreamer Society bag, though they underbid it.
Watch for a full review of the sale in a future issue.
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