With an awareness of the surrounding frame, Cannon then invites the viewer to visually explore the depth of the scene. In the foreground, the central subject, a lone, seated figure, is based on a historic photograph of Peta-Leshara, Pawnee Chief, taken c.1870 by W.H. Jackson. Cannon often used historical photographs of Native Americans in order to “purposely mingle elements of tribal and multicultural traditions” (166).
Cannon depicts the seated chief as a collector of European fine art with Vincent van Gogh’s Wheat Field with a Lark, painted in 1887, hanging prominently on the wall behind him. Further, the collector sits on a Victorian wicker chair. Cannon’s meticulous attention to detail was used in rendering the chair, as it was possibly inspired by furniture at the La Posada Hotel, the main building of which was built in 1882. Friends note that Cannon studied several books on Victorian furniture for this specific piece.
One of T.C.’s main concerns in his own imagery was to show Indians in both a contemporary and traditional sense by juxtaposing them in their traditional Indian way of life with modern elements not only from modern American culture but from other cultures as well, such as African, other Native American groups, and European cultures (166).