Originally featured in Points West magazine in Summer 2011
Joseph Henry Sharp’s Crucita
Joseph Henry Sharp (1859 – 1953) found inspiration in the people and landscapes of the American West. In 1903, Sharp moved West, where he split his time between the Crow Agency in Montana, and Taos, New Mexico. As he lived among Native American cultures, Sharp painted portraits and scenes of everyday life.
In Taos, Sharp found Native Americans willing to pose for paintings. Crucita was his favorite female model. Her passing from maidenhood to womanhood is evident in the many portraits he painted of her throughout the years. It is believed that Crucita posed for as many as sixty-five of Sharp’s paintings, from the time she was a young girl to a woman of middle age. The evolution of Sharp’s own painting style can also be traced through the progression of portraits of this model. Eventually another young woman, Leaf Down, took Crucita’s place in Sharp’s paintings.
Joseph Henry Sharp (1859 – 1953). Crucita—Old Hopi Dress, ca. 1920. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William S. Moorer. 25.65