When Sharp moved into his first formally outfitted Taos studio in the summer of 1910, referred to by him at the time as “my chapel studio,” he was unable to produce a thing. Just as he was prepared to embark on work in the new space, “easel, boxes and everything ready,” his wife Addie fell ill, and the couple promptly left Taos for Pasadena in hopes of a panacea. (letter Sharp to Gest, 9/12/1910, Sharp Papers)
By 1912 though, Sharp was back in Taos and busy at work. In that chapel studio, he painted a number of significant canvases. Sharp had, in about 1912, just begun to employ Crucita, a Taos Pueblo woman, as his prime model. She would pose prominently in several paintings in these years including Pottery Decorators (Record 58) which was sent to the San Diego Panama California Exposition two years later.
In 1913 he painted Crucita into a dual portrait for Phoebe Hearst, Francisco and Crucita, which she purchased later that year. (Record 202) It was close in its presentation to this solo version of his model.
This version of Crucita was exhibited in Cincinnati in 1913 and received remarkable accolades from the press regarding its achievement as a work of fine art rather than an ethnological rendition. One reviewer referred to this portrait as “a decorative scheme, a harmonious arrangement of simple lines and pleasing colors upon a soft gray background; a masterly piece of drawing and subtle coloring.” (Commercial Tribune, 11/23/1913) Crucita seems pensive, expressionless and self-contained, focused entirely on her thoughts. Nonetheless, she is also radiant and engaging.
Peter H. Hassrick