Monday, February 3, 2020

Historic Paddle Art: Chief Shoppenegons 1910

Here's a historic piece of art dated to 1910 featuring a portrait of Chief David Shoppenegons from the Detroit Institute of Art. An Ojibwa leader from Michigan, the full length portrait showcases  Shoppenagons dressed in ceremonial ancestral garb while holding a short paddle apparently referencing his work as a guide along the Au Sable River.

Chief Shoppenegons, 1910
Eanger Irving Couse
Oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 78 × 36 inches (198.1 × 91.4 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Charles Willis Ward
Accession Number 11.4
Department American Art before 1950
On View Native American S130, Level 1

As a nice touch, this historic bit of artwork received a special visit by descendants of both the Chief and the artist, Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936).

Leslie Peterson (l) and Candice Schreiber, with her two grandchildren, pose by the reproduction of the painting, “Chief Shoppenegons” by Eanger Irving Couse. Peterson is a descendant of Couse and Schreiber is a descendant of Shoppenegons.
Credit/Source Link:

In a similar vein, another heritage painting by Crouse depicting Shoppenegons was recently donated by members of the Saginaw Club to Saginaw Arts Museum.

Saginaw Club Painting
Image Credit/Source Link: Michigan Live News

This large oil painting has hung above the fireplace in the Saginaw Club since 1911. It is headed to the museum at 1126 N. Michigan Ave. to join the institution’s collection of Couse’s work, according to Saginaw Art Museum officials.

The source article cites more biographical info on the Chief as well as the provenance of the painting:

"Shoppenagon was born in Indianfields, a Chippewa Indian Village in the Saginaw River Valley. In 1795, his grandfather, also a Chippewa chief, was among the Indians who met with General Anthony Wayne at Fort Greenville, Ohio, and signed a treaty that ended 40 years of warfare in the Ohio Valley. Shoppenagon arrived in the Grayling area from the Saginaw Valley during the early 1870s. He trapped, hunted, and was a guide for sportsmen throughout the northern Lower Peninsula. 
The painting was originally commissioned by Saginaw Club member Charles Willis Ward and given to the club by Ward and Couse. Less than two weeks after the club accepted the painting, Shoppenagon passed away at the age of 104, according to a joint press release from the club and museum"

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