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Catalog Data

Artist:
George Catlin, born Wilkes-Barre, PA 1796-died Jersey City, NJ 1872  Search this
Sitter:
War Chief  Search this
Medium:
oil on canvas
Dimensions:
29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm)
Type:
Painting
Date:
1832
Luce Center Label:
“A very powerful and warlike nation, living on the river Platte, about one hundred miles from its junction with the Missouri; laying claim to, and exercising sway over, the whole country, from its mouth to the base of the Rocky Mountains. The present number of this tribe is ten or twelve thousand; about one half the number they had in 1832, when that most appalling disease, the small-pox, was accidentally introduced amongst them by the Fur Traders, and whiskey sellers; when ten thousand (or more) of them perished in the course of a few months . . . The Pawnees have ever been looked upon, as a very warlike and hostile tribe; and unusually so, since the calamity which I have mentioned.” George Catlin probably painted War Chief at Fort Leavenworth (in today’s Kansas) in 1832. The artist may have finished the robe and legs long after the original sketch of the head and shoulders, which would account for the dwarflike appearance of the subject. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 34, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)
Topic:
Ethnic\Indian\Pawnee  Search this
Portrait male  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Object number:
1985.66.106
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Painting and Sculpture
On View:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2nd Floor, South Wing
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1985.66.106