Lot #3023
Sitting Bull Signed Photograph

Rare and remarkable signed portrait of Sitting Bull—a generational image signed by the Sioux chief

Estimate: $30000+


Rare and remarkable signed portrait of Sitting Bull—a generational image signed by the Sioux chief

Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man (circa 1831-1890) known for his steadfast opposition to the intrusion of the US government into Sioux lands. Fleeing to Canada following the Battle of Little Big Horn, he later returned to the US and toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Fearing his growing influence, government agents fatally shot him during an arrest attempt at Standing Rock Agency on December 15, 1890. Excessively rare 4.25 x 6.5 cabinet photo of legendary Hunkpapa Lakota chief Sitting Bull with his family, circa 1883, boldly signed on the mount in ink, "Sitting Bull." The iconic image shows Sitting Bull seated and dressed in traditional regalia, with a pipe and beaded tobacco bag on his lap and a single eagle feather in his hair. Surrounding him are his mother (Her Holy Door), sister (Good Feather Woman), daughter (Walks Looking), daughter (Many Horses), and infant grandson (Courting a Woman). In very good to fine condition, with light scuffing and a stain to the image, and creases and surface loss to the lower right corner of the mount. Encapsulated in a PSA/DNA authentication holder. Also includes a full letter of authenticity from JSA.

An accompanying old catalog description states that this signed photograph originated from the estate of Joseph Epes Brown, who had acquired it in the 1960s. Brown was an anthropologist and historian of religion who helped to develop the study of Native American religious traditions as an academic discipline. His seminal work was a book entitled, The Sacred Pipe, an account of his discussions with the Lakota holy man, Black Elk, regarding the religious rites of his people.

Sitting Bull's autograph is incredibly rare and massively sought-after in any form, especially in signed photographs—this is the first we have offered in over twenty years. The striking clarity of the portrait and the boldness of the signature make it fit for a museum.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Remarkable Rarities
  • Dates: #638 - Ended June 23, 2022