Ogalalla Sioux by Herbert Herget

Name: Ogalalla Sioux | Artist: Herbert Herget Media: Watercolor and gouache on paper | Year(s): c. 1930
Herbert Herget | Ogalalla Sioux | c. 1930 | Watercolor and gouache on paper | 17 7/8 inches x 12 1/2 inches

About the Work

In this study, artist Herbert Herget depicts a warm, domestic scene of what might be an Ogalalla Sioux family. An indigenous people often depicted as warriors, with notable leaders such as Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, Herget depicts a grandfatherly figure, bending lovingly over two young children who are mounted on a donkey. Herget chose watercolor as his principal medium because it allowed him great precision. Produced with great care, his jewel-like renderings carefully recreated the bead work on the moccasins, regalia and the feather headdress which were characteristic of the Sioux. Not unlike artist George Catlin--whose birthdate preceded Herget's by nearly 100 years--Herget attempted to create a record of a people whose way of life was changing. But unlike Catlin's West, Herget's West may in part have been fashioned from the museum experience, based upon artifacts from cultures he had imagined back into life.

About Herbert Herget

Born in St. Louis in 1885, Herbert M. Herget enjoyed drawing as a young boy, finding inspiration from the reproductions of Frederic Remington’s paintings published in American magazines of the day. He attended public schools in St. Louis after which he took a course in sculpture. After six months of sculpture he decided to pursue painting. Herget received his first serious training as a painter at the Washington University School of Fine Art. Later, he spent several years serving as an apprentice and illustrator for the publishers Woodard & Tiernan.

Interested in the American Indian, Herget began to travel extensively throughout the American West, amassing a collection of Native art and craftwork. By the 1930s and through the 1940s, the artist was producing detailed, ethnologically sophisticated illustrations of life in the Ancient and New World civilizations for the National Geographic Society. Between 1935 and 1950, Herget’s series on the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas appears in National Geographic Magazine.

Artists were integral to the publication as illustrators like Herget collaborated with scientists to interpret and transform the researched information, revealing the marvels of nature and grandeur of civilizations that prospered long ago. Over the course of fifteen years, Herget produced 158 paintings for National Geographic. He often worked in watercolor. The precise medium allowed Herget to capture minute detail and clarity of line.

Little is known about the artist apart from his work. Herbert Herget died in 1950.