Christian Feest and C. Ronald Corum


Frederick Weygold

Artist and Ethnographer of North American Indians




Frederick Weygold (1870–1941), American artist and self-trained ethnographer, is today almost unknown outside of German-speaking Europe. This book, based upon the voluminous body of his paintings, drawings, and papers held by the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and upon research in American and European museums and archives, offers for the first time a comprehensive account of Weygold’s life and achievements as an artist, collector, educator, and social activist.

Born in St. Charles, Missouri, Weygold studied languages and art in Germany and Philadelphia before settling in Louisville in 1908. In Europe, Weygold became fascinated with American Indians, taught himself the Lakota language, and began his life-long study of Native American art by drawing early objects from the Plains in German museum collections. In Philadelphia he did “fieldwork” with Lakotas working for Wild West shows and collected Lakota texts and drawings.

In 1909 he went to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, acquiring Native American artifacts for the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg and documenting in photographs Lakota life and culture, including the first photographic record of the Plains Indian sign language. He later used his ethnographic expertise in a series of oil paintings and to illustrate books by the Dakota author Charles Eastman and by the Western writers James Willard Schultz and Stanley Vestal.

Weygold also gained local recognition for his painting of the iconic “Old Kentucky Home” and was involved in the movement to save Cumberland Falls from being developed into a source of hydroelectric power. Over time, Weygold built a personal collection of Native American artifacts he later donated to the Speed Museum, which now forms the core of the museum’s collection.

This book features selected examples from his work as a painter, illustrator, photographer, and collector of Native American art and artifacts.

Christian Feest was Professor of Anthropology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and Director of the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna. His research interests focus on visual arts and material culture, the history of anthropology, the ethnohistory and historical ethnography of eastern North America, central Mexico and central Brazil, and the anthropology of visual representation.

C. Ronald Corum is a research neurophysiologist and the author of numerous medical, scientific, and historical publications. In the 1970s he actively engaged with the Lakota and their culture, learned their language from a person, who had previously learned it from Weygold, and for some 43 years has done research on the artist.

Frederick Weygold

Artist and Ethnographer of North American Indians


$29.90  Hardcover   ISBN 978-3-9818412-0-6

Distributed by University of Oklahoma Press



xii+260 pages, 23.3 x 27.5 cm

379 color and 92 b/w illustrations, 3 diagrams

Catalogue, notes, bibliography, index


Published in collaboration with the Speed Art Museum. Louisville, Kentucky
Still available From the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY

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