SHINDLER, Antonio Zeno (1823-1899), photographer
Group of 5 mounted albumen photographs of Native Americans, each being a chief or warrior of the Dakota Sioux
[Washington, D.C. 1867-1869]. Albumen photographs on original cream card mounts. Image sizes: approx. 7 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches. Mount size: approximately 14 x 11 inches.
Rare photographs of Dakota Sioux by Shindler: images from the very first museum exhibition of photographs in America.
Following the Smithsonian fire of 1865, which destroyed the collection of painted portraits of Native Americans by John Mix Stanley and Charles Bird King, Smithsonian secretary Joseph Henry sought the assistance of Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden and the financial backing of William Henry Blackmore, to collect photographic portraits of Native Americans and hold an exhibition of the images. Held in 1869, the exhibition displayed 304 photographs of Native Americans -- believed to be the very first museum exhibition of photographs in America.
The images for the exhibition were all derived from one source: photographer A. Zeno Shindler. Shindler had arrived in Washington in 1867, becoming the proprietor of the Addis Photographic Gallery. Commissioned by Blackmore to make photographic copies of his collection of images, he was also contracted by the U.S. government to photograph visiting delegations of Native Americans between 1867 and 1869. In addition, as Addis had taken over the McClees Studio, Shindler had access to those negatives of visiting delegations from 1857-58. Thus the 1869 exhibition included photographs printed from his own negatives, McClees negatives, and copy prints made by Shindler of Blackmore's images.
Although Shindler must have sold images from his studio, they rarely appear on the market. Indeed, the only evidence that the Smithsonian exhibition even took place is the existence of a very rare printed catalogue of the exhibition, which was recreated in 2003 by Paula Fleming. This collection includes the following five images, on their original card mounts:
1) Ma-to-kti-nang-ma-ni, The Bear That Walks Lying Down. A Yankton Sioux Brave. Upper Missouri, Dak. T. "Taken between February 17 and April 8 1867 in Washington, DC, probably before April 1 when the U.S. government ordered portraits of this delegation from Shindler" (Fleming 14).
2) Ma-ta-wa-yu-mi, The Bear That Frightens. A Yankton Sioux, Brave, Upper Missouri, Dak. T. "Taken between February 17 and April 8 1867 in Washington, DC, probably before April 1 when the U.S. government ordered portraits of this delegation from Shindler" (Fleming 22).
3) Ma-to-ho-kan-tan-ke, The Bear with the Big Voice, A Two-Kettle Sioux Chief, Dakota. "Taken between February 17 and April 8 1867 in Washington, DC, probably before April 1 when the U.S. government ordered portraits of this delegation from Shindler" (Fleming 27)
4) Tshe-ton-wa-ka-wa-ma-ni, The Hawk that Hunts Walking; or Little Crow, A Mde-wa Kan-ton Sioux. Chief Leader of the Massacre in Minnesota. "Taken April 16, 1858 ... The negative was made by the McClees Gallery ... Shindler was not the photographer and only printed images for the exhibition. In the late 1860s, he was the proprietor of the Addis Studio, formerly the McClees Gallery, and had access to the 1857-1858 negatives" (Fleming 48).
5) Psi-ka-wa-kin-yan, Jumping Thunder. A Yankton Sioux Warrior. Dakota. "Taken between December 13, 1857 and April 26, 1858 ... the negative was made by the McClees Gallery" (Fleming 58).
Paula Richardson Fleming, Native American Photography at the Smithsonian: The Shindler Catalogue (Washington: Smithsonian, 2003).