Sharp was profoundly affected by a sight he witnessed on the Crow Reservation. It was a personal sacrifice ceremony carried out by a young Crow man as part of expressing his grief over the loss of some fellow tribesman or family member. It was, as Sharp described it, an act of remarkable “bravery and fortitude,” and the artist made at least two studies before embarking on this large canvas. (Fenn, 2007, 216)
In a letter dated October 3, 1912, to Joseph Gest, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, he mentioned having enjoyed “a big summer’s work in Taos. – 2 – 4 x 5 ft canvases, one with two life size figures ….” These were The Broken Bow (Record 227) and The Stoic. He proudly referred to them as “better than any former work.” (Sharp Papers) He exhibited both paintings in his autumn 1912 exhibition, An Exhibition of Pictures of the West, at the University Club in Cincinnati. They were given the distinction of leading the list of works presented. A Cincinnati newspaper, upon seeing this and other paintings in the exhibition, claimed that they were firm evidence of Sharp's artistic mission. "In truth, it is humanity that he treats of and aims to paint as his mental vision sees them -- 'as people who have hearts and souls - that love and laugh - and are as close to nature and nature's God as any people on earth'." (J. F. Earhart, "Sharp's Paintings - A Notable Exhibit," Cincinnati Tribune, 11/1912., Sharp Papers)
Just two years after finishing The Stoic, a painting that he had stored at the Cincinnati Art Museum since 1912, he wrote Gest once more. This time his letter concerned having been invited to submit “six canvases to San Diego Ex.” He wanted The Stoic to be one of those selected for inclusion in the fine art exhibit at the Panama-California Exposition, and he asked Gest to have it sent west along with another piece in storage, The Gamblers (Record 28). Sharp was thus well represented in California in 1915. Considering it one of his current masterpieces, he donated it to the newly established Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe a couple of years later.
Peter H. Hassrick