• Exhibition Catalogue

    Exhibition Catalogue

    James Henderson: Wicite Owapi Wicasa, the man who paints the old men, documents the first thoroughly researched retrospective of works...
  • Untitled (Plains Indian)

    Untitled (Plains Indian)

    The changing title of this work through the years reflects the uncertainty that surrounds the identities of Henderson’s Indigenous portraits....
  • Road to the Lake

    Road to the Lake

    Henderson was fond of building up views of distant hills with lakes in the mid-ground and a foreground animated by...

Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Catalogue

James Henderson: Wicite Owapi Wicasa, the man who paints the old men, documents the first thoroughly researched retrospective of works by the artist and is available for purchase at the Gallery Shop. The 223-page book, priced at $60, traces Henderson’s life and times, and is lavishly illustrated with the artist’s portraits and landscape paintings. Please direct all purchase inquiries to the Gallery Shop at (306) 975 7616.

Texts:

JAMES LANIGAN
Chronology of the Life, Career, Art, and Legacy of James Henderson

DAN RING
James Henderson: A Reflected Life

NEAL MCLEOD
Rethinking Indigenous History: James Henderson’s Paintings As Mnemonic Icons

LYNN ACOOSE
Qu’Appelle, circa 2009

LINDA MANY GUNS
SpiritWarriors of the High Plains

SHERRY FERRELL-RACETTE
Plains Cree Men’s Clothing (1895 – 1926)

SUSAN MCARTHUR
Profiles of Standing Buffalo, Tatanka Najin (1833–1871)

JAMES LANIGAN
Note on James Henderson’s materials and signatures

Publication credits & information:

Directed funding for the research, production, circulation of this exhibition and this book was provided by Museum Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage,  John M. and Ethelene Gareau, Calgary and PotashCorp. This support is gratefully acknowledged.

© Copyright Mendel Art Gallery, 2010. Essays © copyrighted to publisher and authors.

Editor: Fine Line Editing, Morna Greuel, Saskatoon

Design: Susan Chafe, Winnipeg, MB

Printer: Freisens, Altona MB

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Henderson, James, 1871-1951
        James Henderson : wicite owapi wicasa / curators, Dan
Ring, Neal McLeod ; essays by Dan Ring … [et al.].

Catalogue of a travelling exhibition held first at the Mendel
        Art Gallery from Sept. 25, 2009 to Jan. 8, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text in English and French; includes some text in
        Blackfoot, Cree and Dakota.
ISBN 978-1-896359-70-0

        1. Henderson, James, 1871-1951–Exhibitions.  2. Indians of
North America–Canada–Folklore.  3. Indians in art.  I. Ring, Dan
II. McLeod, Neal  III. Mendel Art Gallery  IV. Title.

ND249.H45A4 2009                    759.11                      C2009-903973-7E

Road to the Lake

Road to the Lake

Henderson was fond of building up views of distant hills with lakes in the mid-ground and a foreground animated by light moving over the grass and the framing tress. This composition was used in such paintings as Road to the Lake, where the foreground is occupied by a rural road, with small figures, who can be identified as Indigenous by their dress, descending toward the brilliant blue of the lake below. Often these views are shown from a slightly higher vantage point, which indicate the spot he chose to do his sketching.

James Henderson
Road to the Lake, c. 1935
oil on canvas
45.7 x 61.0 cm
Collection of James Lanigan, Calgary, AB.

Untitled (Plains Indian)

Untitled (Plains Indian)

This painting is a very fine example of Henderson’s strengths as a portrait painter. The subject is a formidable figure: his expression is stern, his eyes watchful and somewhat disdainful and haughty, but yet with a sense of humour and tolerance. He wears a mixture of Western and Indigenous clothing: a beaded or embroidered floral sash with red ribbons over what appears to be a Western-style cloth jacket. The portrait has been described as ‘a powerful image of individualism. Open though some of its brushwork is, the portrait retains particularity in its depiction of beadwork and in the realization of surface texture.’ (Matthew Teitelbaum, Twenty-Five Years of Collecting, Mendel Art Gallery, 1989, p.40.)

James Henderson
Untitled (Plains Indian), c. 1924
Oil on canvas
62.0 x 46.3 cm
Collection of the Mendel Art Gallery. Purchsed with the assistance of funds from PriceWaterhouse, Chartered Accountants, 1986.

Provenance: Uno Langman, Vancouver, BC; Sonia de Grandmaison (Fine Art Broker), Vancouver, BC; Art Placement, Saskatoon, SK.

This painting is also interesting because of its changing titles through the years, reflecting the uncertainty that surrounds the identities of Henderson’s Indigenous portraits. The invoice from Art Placement lists the title as Untitled (Cree Indian Portrait), undated, c. late 30s to early 40s. This was amended to Untitled (Plains Indian), c. 1935–45, in 1989. In a letter to the author in 2002, James A. McLennan, M.D., of Burnaby, BC, who had seen the portrait in the exhibition Qu’Appelle: Tales of Two Valleys, states, ‘Untitled (in the show wall of the various Chiefs & Indians) by Henderson—is titled in the companion piece (of the same person)…on a brass plaque below ‘James Henderson, Sun Walking—Blackfoot Chief Fort Qu’Appelle (sic)’. Presumably Dr. McLennan had seen or owned this companion piece, and was also pointing out that the Blackfoot did not live in Fort Qu’Appelle. Linda Many Guns has suggested that the name of this person is not Sun Walking but Sun Walk, which is the title we have currently given it. The date of c. 1935 initially ascribed to the work also seems incorrect as research indicates that by the early 1930s, Henderson had almost completely given up painting portraits and was concentrating on landscape paintings. If in fact this is a portrait of a Blackfoot man, it would have been done after Henderson visited Gleichen, in 1923 and again in 1926, to carry out research for the University of Saskatchewan portrait commission.  Even more problematically, when compared to the figure of Sun Walk(ing) from the University’s collection, the man in this portrait seems to be a different individual, placing the Blackfoot attribution in doubt. This convoluted sequence of circumstances gives some sense of some of the problems related to naming and dating portraits by Henderson.
-Dan Ring