Last of the Rogue River Maidens Redux was inspired by a historic photograph from Peter Britt taken in the mid 1800\‘s. The beautiful 50 pound heavily adorned buckskin robe worn in this painting was made by the woman wearing it, Lady Oscharwasha, also known as Jennie. She made it many years before her death as a burial robe, wearing it often, and she passed away May 14th, 1883.
To achieve the effect of the weightiness of her garment, I used multiple layers of paint to detail the elaborate shell bead work and fringe. I painted her delicate woven, grass hat with a basket-weave effect.
I imagine Lady Oscharwasha to have been a proud, strong, native woman who bravely faced many obstacles, and prejudices. The truth of that is felt in the original photograph. I hope I’ve achieved as much of that truth in my portrayal of her.
Very recently I was contacted by her great-great niece. She had done an internet search of her aunt’s name and my name and website popped up. She was excited and contacted me soon after. We are now communicating about her search for her family history, as well as Jenny’s (or Jennie’s) grave. She knows there is no headstone, but there is evidence she is one of a few Native Americans that may have possibly been allowed to be buried next to white people in a cemetery in southern Oregon. In her research, Oscharwasha’s niece told me that when Jennie was alive someone had actually offered her money back in the late 1800s to take the garment to Chicago and display/paint it’s image, possibly an artist named Rowena Nichols, but she refused, as she had planned to be buried in it in Jacksonville Oregon.
I have always loved this painting, but now because of my communication with an actual descendant of Oscharwasha, I am even more convinced that her spirit called out to me to relate her story to her living family members and to the viewing public. As I find out more about this remarkable woman of history, I will add new information. Perhaps start a blog about it.
As always, I hope you enjoy this painting as well.
Oil on Canvas: 18 X 36
Original for sale. Beautifully, and expensively framed…
Contact artist for details