[Crow Camp on the Little Big Horn, Montana]; Crow Camp on Little Big Horn
This peaceful, autumnal scene takes place on the Little Big Horn River near the Crow Agency. Though the setting seems to suggest a sense of permanence as part of a Crow village, it is indeed merely a temporary camp. The subjects of this bucolic view, possibly Mountain Crows, have come here simply to collect rations from the agency and then move on.
In a note on the back of the painting, Sharp left a not-too-veiled message about what he considered a lack of frugality among these Indians. Instead of saving their rations and parceling them out over the coming weeks and months, the visitors were inclined to stay around the agency for several days feasting on the distributed food until it was all gone. They would then return home empty handed. This practice was not consonant with Sharp’s upbringing, and he bridled at their not sharing his values of conservation in such circumstances.
The painting is a companion work to another larger oil done at about the same time, Ration Day at the Reservation. (related image 277) The Indians here are presented as destitute but not foolish.
Peter H. Hassrick
On paper on backing board: Crow Camp on the / Little Big Horn, Mont. / not permanent - many / spots for summer camp. They come in and park / around the agency for / a few days before ration/issue, then a few days, / then a few days more / to feast & eat it all up.
The artist; Thomas Gilcrease, Tulsa, OK, 1946; The Thomas Gilcrease Foundation, 1955; present owner by gift
This painting is listed in the Gilcrease retrospective catalogue as Crow Camp, Montana. A work by that title was exhibited at the Hotel Gibson in a show titled Indian Paintings in 1919. However, Sharp wrote to Joseph Butler in December 1919 that he would not go to Montana that winter, so this work must have been painted the autumn before, or earlier.