Richard Throssel (1882-1933) Biography

Richard Throssel (1882-1933)

 

Throssel is best known for his photographs of the Crow nation taken from 1902 to 1911.

 

Richard Throssel was born in Marengo, Washington of English, Irish and one-quarter Cree Indian heritage. In 1902 he moved to the Crow Reservation in Montana to take a job with the Indian Service. Shortly after his arrival, he bought a camera and began making portraits of Crow individuals and families as well as photos of daily life and sacred and secular ceremonies on the Reservation. 

In 1905, Throssel met the photographer, Edward S. Curtis, who also was photographing the Crow. Throssel adopted much of Curtis’ sentimental style with softer focus, more dramatic lighting, and staged arrangements of people and objects. On the Crow nation, he also met painter Joseph Henry Sharp from whom he learned design and composition.

The Crow tribe adopted Throssel in 1906, undoubtedly giving him access to situations and ceremonies not available to non-Native photographers and artists. During his ten years on the Crow Reservation he made more than 1000 photographs.

Throssel assisted the Wanamaker Expedition of 1908 with his Crow photographs and continued his photographic career with the Indian Service from 1909 to 1911. After leaving the Indian Service, he and his wife moved to Billings, Montana where he opened a commercial studio, The Throssel Photocraft Company. In 1917 he was elected to the Montana legislature and he remained involved in politics until his death in 1933.