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Keeper Of The Seal: The Art Of Henry Wood Elliott And The Salvation Of The Alaska Fur Seals

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dc.contributor.author Morris, Lisa Marie
dc.date.accessioned 2018-06-13T21:25:30Z
dc.date.available 2018-06-13T21:25:30Z
dc.date.issued 2001
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11122/8624
dc.description Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2001
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines the art of Henry Wood Elliott (1846--1930) and its role in Elliott's successful crusade to save the Pribilof Island fur seals from probable extinction, its importance as a visual record of the nineteenth-century Pribilof Aleut people during a time of societal transition, and how the art reveals the guiding aspirations of the artist. Elliott was one of the first American artists to work in Alaska. An experienced field artist who had served on two prior government expeditions before his assignment to the Pribilof Islands, Elliott used his watercolors of the fur seals in a successful nationwide campaign to reverse the depletion of the herds. Less well known are Elliott's ethnographic watercolors of the Pribilof Aleut people. Created only a few short years after the 1867 Alaska Purchase, these works show the Native people accommodating their Aleut-Russian culture to American societal expectations. These images, then, are a significant visual record for safeguarding the Aleut people's past. Nettled by scientific opponents, Elliott also turned his artistic talents to retaliation. Just as William Hogarth (1697--1764) and Honore Daumier (1808--1879) used caricature to comment on society, Elliott created hundreds of cartoons (ca. 1910--1926) to ridicule his opponents and promote his own point of view. It is in these previously unexamined works that Henry Elliott achieved a synthesis of art and documentation. Elliott's art also reveals his own thwarted aspirations to achieve recognition as a serious artist. His experiences as an expedition artist encouraged both his enthusiasm for science and talent for documentation. Elliott's desire to pair his watercolors with descriptive written details and snippets of government documents, however, transformed them into visual record. Elliott may not have realized his dream of winning respect as an artist, but his documentary images aroused more interest in the declining fur seal herds than the thousands of pages of dry testimony documenting the controversy. The attention generated by his artwork was a major contributor to the successful resolution of the Pribilof Island fur seal debate.
dc.subject American history
dc.subject Art history
dc.title Keeper Of The Seal: The Art Of Henry Wood Elliott And The Salvation Of The Alaska Fur Seals
dc.type Thesis
dc.type.degree phd
dc.contributor.chair Lee, Molly
dc.contributor.chair Woodward, Kesler


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