Sharp, Joseph Henry

Sharp, Joseph Henry Biography

An established artist, he traveled to the West in 1883. Throughout his life Joseph Henry Sharp's primary concern in oil painting was to record Indian life before it had been significantly altered by modem influences.

Born in Bridgeport, Ohio, the Sharp family soon moved to Cincinnati where Joseph grew up. He showed an early fascination with Indians and stories of the West coupled with an interest in drawing. Following study at the Chicago Art Institute, he traveled to Europe where his academic training was firmly secured. Joseph Henry Sharp did not actually see Taos until 1893 and, having realized the stability of the Pueblo Indians, he spent several years painting the Crow and Sioux on a reservation in Montana. Sharp visited Taos in the summers and became a permanent resident in 1912.
Joseph Henry Sharp's work is distinguished by its attention to detail and accuracy. Many of his oil paintings depict his favorite models in a corner of the studio among various artifacts. However, Joseph Henry Sharp did not compromise pictoral considerations for historical ones. Often his work was executed in firelight which lent a soft glow to his subject, highlighting elements of the composition. While in Montana, Joseph Henry Sharp was commissioned to paint a series of Indian portraits and many of these remain the only record of these men today. A skilled draftsman, Sharp also completed many landscapes and charming studies of Taos.

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