Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “de chay”, after the Navaho “Ta Shé”) to this day is one of the most sacred places for the Navaho peoples. It is located in Northeastern Arizona in the heart of Navaho country. Of Curtis’ 50,000 negatives this is widely considered to be his single most important and powerful landscape. The insignificance of man relative to nature is clearly illustrated through the sheer size (approximately 1,000 feet high) of enduring cliff formations that surround the riders. “Canyon de Chelly” was clearly one of Curtis’ favorite and most iconic images as he printed it in at least four different photographic processes.
This original vintage photogravure is printed on handmade Japanese gampi (“tissue”) paper. This is the rarest and most expensive of the three original paper stocks chosen by Curtis and J.P. Morgan for Curtis’ North American Indian project. Only Morgan and a few others paid the substantial premium to get the rare tissue edition. Tissue prints are noted for their subtlety, luminosity, and strength. Gampi paper making is a millennia-old tradition in Japan and the art is often handed down within a family from generation to generation over hundreds of years.