"A Mother's Gift" (Southern Cheyenne, circa mid-19th century)
Original Watercolor by Kenneth Ferguson
This painting is called "A Mother's Gift." The woman portrayed is Southern Cheyenne. She wears a buffalo robe decorated with narrow bands of dyed porcupine quills, a choker made from Dentalium shell and a trade bead necklace enhanced with a pink mussel shell. She carries a cherished doll. Whether she holds on to the doll as a last vestige of her childhood or is preparing to hand it down to her daughter is for the viewer to decide.
The background imagery is derived from the painted decorations typically found on the rawhide containers known as parfleches. In this case, it is based on a Cheyenne envelope-style parfleche from the 1850s.