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George Catlin papers, 1821-1904, 1946

Creator:
Catlin, George, 1796-1872  Search this
Subject:
Sully, Thomas  Search this
Clay, Henry  Search this
Seward, William Henry  Search this
Topic:
Ethnological illustrators  Search this
Painters  Search this
Art and race  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Photogravures  Search this
Portrait painters  Search this
Ethnological painters  Search this
Miniature painters  Search this
Indians of North America  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)5435
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209512
AAA_collcode_catlgeor
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209512
Additional Online Media:

George Catlin papers

Creator:
Catlin, George, 1796-1872  Search this
Names:
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852  Search this
Seward, William Henry, 1801-1872  Search this
Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872  Search this
Extent:
2.3 Linear Feet
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Photogravures
Date:
undated
1821-1904
Summary:
The collection comprises 2.3 feet of papers concerning George Catlin's creation and promotion of his famed "Indian Gallery" of paintings, drawings, and artifacts of North American Indians. Dating from 1821 through 1904, with one item dated 1946, the papers include letters, notebooks and journals, receipt books and loose receipts, printed materials, and other documentation. The bulk of the collection focuses on Catlin's efforts to promote the sale of his gallery to the United States government through tours, including London and Paris, and petitions to various governments to purchase the Gallery. Among the rare printed catalogs and petitions in the collection are exhibition catalogs for the U.S., London, and Paris tours, the earliest dating from 1837. Letters and other documents include letters dating from the 1830s from Henry Clay, Thomas Sully, and William Henry Seward commending Catlin's work, as well as Catlin family correspondence and papers dating from 1821 through the 1870s.
Scope and Contents note:
The collection comprises 2.3 feet of papers concerning George Catlin's creation and promotion of his famed "Indian Gallery" of paintings, drawings, and artifacts of North American Indians. Dating from 1821 through 1904, with one item dated 1946, the papers include letters, notebooks and journals, receipt books and loose receipts, printed materials, and other documentation. The bulk of the collection focuses on Catlin's efforts to promote the sale of his gallery to the United States government through tours, including London and Paris, and petitions to various governments to purchase the Gallery. Among the rare printed catalogs and petitions in the collection are exhibition catalogs for the U.S., London, and Paris tours, the earliest dating from 1837. Letters and other documents include letters dating from the 1830s from Henry Clay, Thomas Sully, and William Henry Seward commending Catlin's work, as well as Catlin family correspondence and papers dating from 1821 through the 1870s.

Of particular interest in the collection are letters to and from Catlin, including two written by Catlin during his early travels to the west in the 1830s. Other letters include ones from Henry Clay, John Adams Dix, Ralph Randolph Gurley, James Hall, William Henry Seward, Thomas Sully (illustrated), and Baron Friederich von Humbolt, among others. Most wish Catlin well and offer support in his endeavors to sell his collection.

Also found within the collection are several notebooks and notes describing Native American ceremonies, name translations, customs, and other information pertinent to Catlin's catalog, two volume book, and exhibitions of the "Indian Gallery." There are also numerous loose receipts and account and receipt books documenting the 1840s London and Paris venues of the "Indian Gallery" exhibition. The collection also houses printed catalogs for the exhibitions, including a rare 1837 catalog for the first show in New York.

Additional materials include certificates of authenticity testifying to the authenticity of Catlin's paintings from life of Native American sitters, announcements relating to exhibition openings, printed memorials and petitions to Congress, printed letters of support, envelopes and name cards, and handwritten tickets to Catlin lectures. Also found are a handwritten journal of Theodore B. Catlin, photogravures of Catlin, obituaries for Catlin, and printed reviews of the exhibitions.
Arrangement note:
The George Catlin papers are arranged into five series based primarily on document type. Within each series, materials are arranged in chronological order.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1821-1885 (Boxes 1, 6; Reel 5824; 12 folders)

Series 2: Writings, 1825-circa 1872 (Boxes 1, 6; Reel 5824; 9 folders)

Series 3: Financial Records, 1826-1848 (Boxes 2, 6; Reels 5824-5825; 13 folders, 3 bound volumes)

Series 4: Catalogs, 1837-1871 (Boxes 3-5; Reel 5825; 1 linear foot)

Series 5: Ephemera and Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1832-1904, 1946 (Boxes 5-6, OV 7; Reel 5825; 14 folders)
Biographical/Historical note:
George Catlin was born in 1796 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Although trained as a lawyer, Catlin quit his law practice and moved to Philadelphia in 1823 to begin a career as a portrait painter. He gained membership in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1824, but his career in formal portraiture met with little success. In 1830, Catlin embarked upon his lifetime achievement of documenting the lives, customs, and culture of the declining native American population of the Plains. He spent the next six years traveling, drawing, painting, and writing about the Plains Indians. By 1837, he had amassed enough documentation to hold a major exhibition in New York of Catlin's Indian Gallery of Portraits, Landscapes, Manners and Customs, Costumes, etc. The same exhibition, with an added live show, traveled to London in 1842 and Paris in 1845, where it was met with rave reviews.

Catlin spent the remainder of his life gathering support for the sale of the Indian Gallery to the U.S. Congress. Between 1841 and 1842, at his own expense, Catlin wrote and published his two volume set Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians. He also wrote numerous petitions and "memorials" to Congress, often including statements from national and international reputable supporters, such as Daniel Webster, General Lewis Cass, the Joint Committee on the Library (of Congress), and the American Ambassador to France. The Smithsonian Institution's first Secretary Joseph Henry strongly supported congressional acquisition of Catlin's work and even provided Catlin with a small studio in the Castle building. All of the appeals to the government for the purchase of the collection were, in the end, unsuccessful and Catlin died almost penniless in 1872.
Related Archival Materials note:
The Archives holds several related collections of differing provenances related to George Catlin, including a small collection of manuscripts and drawings microfilmed on reel 1191 related to Catlin's work in marine art and documentation. A microfilmed loan of circa 500 items is also available on reel 3277 of letters between Catlin and Sir Thomas Phillipps, 1840-1860, writings by Catlin and material on Catlin's Indian Gallery, including clippings, catalogs, handbills, invitations, drawings and portrait sketches of native Americans, and printed material; a watercolor sketchbook; a list of paintings; and miscellany. Also found within the Archives is one undated letter microfilmed on reel D8 from Catlin, and a collection of art historian William Truettner's research papers on George Catlin.
Provenance:
The papers of George Catlin were transferred to the Archives of American Art by the Library of the Smithsonian's National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian's American Art Museum. Accession records indicate that the papers were once maintained by the Smithsonian's Bureau of Ethnology and were probably part of the orginal 1879 acquisition of Catlin's Indian Gallery by the Smithsonian. Businessman Joseph Harrison rescued the "Indian Gallery" from Catlin's creditors in the 1850s and stored the collection in a Philadelphia warehouse, where it suffered damage from at least two fires before Harrison's widow donated the collection to the Smithsonian.
Restrictions:
A digitized version of the microfilm of this collection is available online via the Archives of American Art website.
Rights:
The George Catlin papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Portrait painters  Search this
Painters  Search this
Miniature painters  Search this
Indians of North America -- Portraits  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Ethnological painters  Search this
Ethnological illustrators  Search this
Art and race  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photogravures
Citation:
George Catlin papers, 1821-1946. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.catlgeor
See more items in:
George Catlin papers
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-catlgeor
Additional Online Media:

George Catlin manuscripts and drawings, [ca. 1893]

Creator:
Catlin, George, 1796-1872  Search this
Topic:
Works of art  Search this
Miniature painters  Search this
Indians of North America  Search this
Art and race  Search this
Ethnological illustrators  Search this
Ethnological painters  Search this
Illustrators  Search this
Portrait painters  Search this
Drawings  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7357
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209511
AAA_collcode_catlgemd
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209511

George Catlin collection from the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, 1840-1860

Creator:
Catlin, George, 1796-1872  Search this
Subject:
Phillipps, Thomas  Search this
Topic:
Art, American  Search this
Ethnological painters  Search this
Indian painting  Search this
Miniature painters  Search this
Painters  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)10018
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)212831
AAA_collcode_catlgeop
Theme:
Lives of American Artists
Audio - Visual
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_212831

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