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February 05 2002

Donald Ellis Gallery Profile

Native Peoples Magazine

Writing for Native Peoples Magazine, Russ Tall Chief profiles Donald Ellis Gallery as 'a pre-eminent venue' for historical Native American art.

‘An acclaimed collector, dealer, appraiser and curator’ himself, the gallery specialises in 18th and 19th century Native American art, with a particular emphasis on the Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands and Inuit cultures. The gallery currently offers major works by the renowned Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (1839-1924), among them a powerful 16-inch painted cedar bark made in collaboration with his wife Isabella, one of only 19 known examples still in existence.

Working with private collectors, corporations and museum since 1976, the gallery is also ‘a major presence at the annual January Winter Antiques Fair in New York City,’ Tall Chief observes. This year, Ellis will present an important Haida portrait mask dating to around 1840, complete with polychrome paint and human hair; as well as an Assiniboine quilled shirt, ca. 1830 and a highly important and extremely rare first phase Navajo chief’s blanket dating to as early as 1800.

‘As the central appraiser of Native art for the celebrated PBS program Antiques Roadshow,’ the author notes, ‘Ellis is often offered extraordinary opportunities to view treasures held by private individuals.’ While providing expert insights for a television audience numbering more than 14 million worldwide, Ellis appraised and subsequently purchased the first phase Navajo chief’s blanket during the Roadshow’s visit to Tucson, Arizona, last summer. Comprised of alternating woven bands of natural white, brown and indigo blue, less than fifty of these blankets survive today.

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Donald Ellis Gallery Profile