Home > Artist Database > Bio-bibliographic Database > EDENSHAW, Isabella

Artist Database

EDENSHAW, Isabella

Klukwan Village, Alaska, 1858?
, 1926
Biography synopsis
Isabella Edenshaw (K'woiyeng/Yahgujanaas/S'itkwuns) was a First Nations basket maker of the Haida clan and member of the Yakulanas (Raven) lineage. She was wed to painter and sculptor Charles Edenshaw (1839-1920) in a pre-arranged marriage; they had eleven children. In her artistic practice, Edenshaw would often weave baskets and hats, which her husband Charles Edenshaw would paint. Many of these collaborative works were later erronouesly attributed solely to Charles. Isabella Edenshaw worked with spruce roots, soaking them before weaving. Edenshaw wove baskets and hats all winter, after which she and her family sold throughout the Northwest Coast. The noted art collector Charles F. Newcombe gathered many of the Edenshaws' works. In 2006, The Edenshaw's works were exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the "Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art" exhibition. The 2010 exhibition "Signed Without Signature" at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver featured the Edenshaw's basketry and jewelry. Their baskets and hats are in the collections of the McCord Museum in Montreal, the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. Her daughter Florence Edenshaw Davidson (1896-1993) was also a well-known artist, and Edenshaw's great-granddaughter, Isabel Rorick (b. 1955), is a contemporary basket weaver.
Media used
Basket making
File & Archive locations
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
Royal British Columbia Museum

Writings about
"An Aboriginal Presence: Isabella Edenshaw (1858-1926)." Canadian Museum of Civilization 2010
Blackman, Margaret B. During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, a Haida Woman. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.
Busby, Sharon. Spruce Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit. Seattle: Marquand Books, 2003.
Chalker, Kari et al. Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest. Harry N. Abrams, 2004.
Drew, Leslie & Wilson, Douglas. Argillite, Art of the Haida. Hancock House, 1980.
Howard, Patricia L. Women & Plants: Gender Relations in Biodiversity Management and Conservation. London, England: Zed Books, 2003.
Laforet, A. Isabella Edenshaw's Basketry. Ottawa: National Museum of Man, 1985.
MacDonald, George F. Haida Art. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996.
MacDonald, George F. L'Art haïda. Hull, Québec: Musée canadien des civilisations, 1996.
Malinowski, Sharon & Abrams, George H. Notable Native Americans. Gale Research, 1995.
Mowat, Linda et al. Basketmakers: Meaning and Form in Native American Baskets. Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum, 1992.
Newell, Dianne. Tangled Webs of History: Indians and the Law in Canada's Pacific Coast Fisheries. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993.
Porter, Frank W. ed. The Art of Native American Basketry: A Living Legacy. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990.
Ransom, Kelly Marie. Art as Negotiation: The Reciprocal Construction of Meanings in the Argillite Carvings of Charles Edenshaw. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1993.
Rawlings, Irene. "Changing Faces." Art and Antiques 21.2 (Feb. 1998): 62-69.
Seattle Art Museum. The Spirit Within. Seattle: Rizzoli, 1995.
Steltzer, Ulli. A Haida Potlatch. Douglas & McIntyre, 1984.
Thom, Ian M. Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2009.
Turner, Nancy J. & Davidson, Florence Edenshaw et al. Plants of Haida Gwaii: Xaadaa Gwaay gud gina k'aws (Skidegate) - Xaadaa Gwaayee guu gin k'awa (Masset). Winlaw, British Columbia: Sono Nis Press, 2004.
Vancouver Art Gallery. Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art. Vancouver: 2006.
Whiting, Faith. What a Basket Holds. Langley Museum, 2002.
Williams, Lucy Fowler. Guide to the Ethnographic Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2003.
Williams, Lucy Fowler et al. Native American Voices on Identity, Art, and Culture: Objects of Everlasting Esteem. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2005.

Search by: