Static Renderings, Shifting Identities: Elbridge Ayer Burbank's Portraits of American Indians

Master's Thesis


The paintings of Elbridge Ayer Burbank (1858Ì¢âÂ"1949) were admired in his lifetime, especially but not exclusively by the anthropological community of collectors and museum professionals who valued “accuracy” and believed that Burbank delivered it, first in his paintings of African Americans produced between 1892 and 1897 and later in his oil paintings and red crayon drawings of American Indians. This paper will explore Burbank’s quest to represent the “authentic” Indian and the transformation of that quest as he moved from the medium of oil paint to the medium of red crayon. Burbank’s paintings emphasize his preoccupation with authenticity at the outset of his project. The red drawings, on the other hand, suggest how Burbank used the concept of hybridity, the mixture of heterogeneous elements, in an attempt to reconcile his quest for a single authentic Indianness with his discovery of diverse individual Indians on reservations.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04172009-140159

Author Erica Elaine Hansen
Advisor Kathleen Pyne
Contributor Kathleen Pyne, Committee Chair
Contributor Charles Barber, Committee Member
Contributor Sophie White, Committee Member
Degree Level Master's Thesis
Degree Discipline Art, Art History, and Design
Degree Name MA
Defense Date
  • 2009-04-03

Submission Date 2009-04-17
  • United States of America

  • identity

  • painting

  • anthropology

  • hybridity

  • ethnology

  • drawing

  • art

  • native

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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