To: Mrs Margaret Blaker. From: John C. Ewers. December 11, 1962. Subject: Portrait of Big Elk used in frontispiece in Morton's Crania Americana. I think that Big Elk may have been a member of the 1821 delegation of Indians from the Central Plains to Washington. John Neagle painted portraits of some, but probably not all of them, in Philadelphia. I believe you have on file photos of some of these, the originals of which are now in the Pennsylvania Historical Society. King's portraits of a number of these Indians are much better known than these. I know of no King portrait of Big Elk. It is difficult to judge an artist's original style from a lithograph produced from the original by another artist. But, the style certainly doesn't resemble King's work to me. I would assume that because Morton and Neagle were both Philadelphians, the artist is correctly atttributed in the caption on the lithograph. Thank you very much for the print. I should like to have it. In my opinion it is a better rendering of an Indian face than King was accustomed to produce. This may be another reason to believe the artist was John Neagle.
Hair is worn long. Sketch shows him in uniform, with silver band on arm. He wears the silver medal presented by the United States to chiefs. Inscribed twice in St Memin's handwriting "Payouska Chef des Grands Osages."
See New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, April 1928, "The St Memin Indian Portraits," by Luke Vincent Lockwood, Member American Antiquarian Society. (Figure 1).