Frank A. Rinehart

born Lodi, IL 1861-died New Haven, CT 1928
Also known as
  • F. A. Rinehart
  • Frank Albert Rinehart
Lodi, Illinois, United States
New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Active in
  • Denver, Colorado, United States
  • Omaha, Nebraska, United States
  • American

Specializing in commercial portraits, Rinehart opened a studio in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1886. Commissioned by the government, in 1898 he became the official photographer of the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha. Many mid-nineteenth-century expositions exhibited American Indians as curiosities of the past, but this one had advanced under the national policy of assimilation. However, much of this intention was lost when the emphasis shifted from education to a Wild West style of entertainment.

Working with his assistant, Adolf Muhr, Rinehart set up a studio and gallery at the exposition. Because Rinehart was occupied with recording other exposition events, it is likely that Muhr made many of the nearly five hundred portraits of the Indians attending the Congress. The portraits are staged depictions in which some of the Indians are posed in ceremonial dress in front of the incongruous studio backdrops of painted architectural settings. Others, like the image of Buried Far Away, suggest the harsher reality of the romanticized Native American.

Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)