Charles Bird King and his portraits/paintings of American Indian Chiefs

Hatne Hudjihini Eagle of Delight-Oteo tribe

Source

Charles Bird King (1785-1862), an American artist, is best known for doing portrait. He is especially notable for his portraiture of American Indian delegates who came to Washington for various reasons.

He was born in Newport, Rhode Island and the only child of Deborah Bird and Captain Zebulon King who fought in the Revolutionary War. The family moved west but near Marietta Ohio his father was killed and scalped by Indians. . Four year old Charles and his mother moved back to Newport.

Anacamegishca, Ojibwa Warrior

Source

Training

King went to New York when he was fifteen to study under Edward Savage, a portrait painter. At twenty he went to London to study under Benjamin West at the Royal Academy Later. he worked in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond and eventually settled in Washington. After gaining a solid reputation he started his own studio and gallery. He made friends with such people as John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, James Monroe and Daniel Webster.

King apparently did his portraits in his studio in Washington and not actually on the frontier, the pictures are important as early documentation of the Indians. Other artist also painted some portraits for the collection. However, the majority  were by King. But only a portion of the Indians were Plains Indians.

Kee-shes-wa, Fox Chief

Source

Jack-O-Pea, Ojibwa Warrior

Source

Ojibwa Woman

Source

The Indian gallery

“As early as 1821, under the auspices of the War Department, an ‘Indian Gallery’ was established in Washington,” from Appendix to Bernard DeVoto’s Across the Wide Missouri. The book dates back to 1947, but still a good history of the fur trade on the frontier. 

Thomas McKinney held several positions in the government, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was his influence that got King the contract to paint the Indians portraits. Some of the paintings that were destroyed were in McKinney’s lithographic collection and preserved in that form.

Little Crow, Sioux Warrior

Source

Style and Influence

King’s style was influenced by the Dutch school and he was also known to stay within the confines of the traditional styles he learned when he was young. The government commissioned him to do portraits of the Indians and also of celebrated war heroes. He is not well remembered, according to Wikipedia, because his work was not particularly innovative in a time when there were many good artists around. Also much of his Indian work was lost in a fire at the Smithsonian.

Tshusick, Ojibwa woman

Source

Chief Wapello, Musquakee Chief

Pictures

This article concentrates on his Indian work. For those interested in more information:

Viola, Herman J. The Legacy of Charles Bird King. 1976.

Sharitarish (Wicked Chief)

Petalesharo(Generous chief

Monchousia (White Plume)

Shaumonekusse (Prairie Wolf)

Red Jacket or Keeper Awake, Seneca War Chief

David Vann, Later treasuer of Cherokee nNation

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Comments 33 comments

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thank you so much dahoglund, for this very interesting and educational hub on Charles Bird King and the Indian cheifs potraits. thankmyou for sharing it. Godspeed. creativeone59


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for your complimentary comment.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

dahoglund,

Great informational Hub on King. In your research did you ever hear how he got the name King instead of Bird?


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Tom.

You caught me in a dumb error. His father's name was King, not Bird.It would be nice to have a proofreader.I'll correct that.

Thanks for commenting and setting me straight.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

I'd never heard of this guy before. Thanks for the information.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

dahoglund,

I know how you feel. I go back and read my old Hubs, and constantly find errors. I just found another in a comment where I spelled "to" as "tro".


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Robwrite

Probably most people haven't. Partly because his work was less dramatic than some artists and photographers of the frontier. However, I thought he was worth writing about because he predated much of the frontier art. Thanks for reading and commenting.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I came across some of his prints at a yard sale. I had them framed. Very good artist. Thanks for all the information.


Medkh9 6 years ago

i like your hub its really interesting


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

suziecat7

Thanks for commenting.He was a good artist.I think he left a legazy worth preserving.I hope you enjoy the prints.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Medkh9

Thanks for visiting and commenting.


soumyasrajan 6 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

Enjoyed those portraits very much dahoglund! He was quite impressive. Your article is great!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

Thanks for the introduction to Charles Bird King. I have seen some of these images before, but never knew who produced them. Good Article


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting. I think thee artists contributed to the knowledge of our history and culture by their paintings.


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Wow - what great information. Glad you included pictures as well - and they do look familiar - now I have some background. Rated way up!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Glad you liked it.There is so much knowledge about Indians that would be lost but for the artists.I'm working on doing some more hubs on artists who portrayed thefrontier and Indians.Thanks for your comment.


theindianblues profile image

theindianblues 6 years ago from Some where on the Globe

Amazing topic and pictures! I enjoyed reading the hub and learned about a great artist. Thanks dahoglund for sharing such a nice hub.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Glad you stopped by to read it.I do think artists like this helped preserve a facet of America that might have been lost otherwise. Thanks for the comment.


jessicilieee 6 years ago

Very good thanks


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

I like all of the portraits but especially the Wicked Chief. Great history about a little known artist.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

jessicliteee

Thanks for visiting.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

KoffeeKlatch Gals

Thanks for commenting. We get so many stereotypes of Indians both good and bad, I think some history is needed.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Don,

You are correct in that we learn much from viewing art. Thanks for introducing me to the artist Charles Bird King. Too bad that some of his art was lost in a fire in the Smithsonian. Voted up, useful, interesting and will share.


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

dahoglund,

I was always interesting in who were the painters of Indian Chiefs

I remember seeing them in history books back when I was in high school.

useful information. Voted up


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

Wow! These are amazing paintings. Thanks for sharing.


Jane Holmes 3 years ago

Another great hub! Very interesting and good information. Voted up, pined and shared!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Peggy, We probably would not know much about the Indians if it were not for the artists who documented them. I appreciate your comments on this hub and your sharing it.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

torrilynn, considering how hard it was to get around in those days, these painters did a real service of information in addition to contributing to the world of art. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

deborah, yes, they are. Thanks for visiting and commenting.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Jane, thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

I have never heard about Charles Bird King. Thank you very much for writing and beautiful pictures here. Good job, uncle. Maybe, I would never know him if I don't read this hub. Voted up! useful, awesome, beautiful, interesting.

Prasetio


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

prasetuio, except for people with special interests most people are probably unaware of the artist such as Charles Bird King. They did play an important role in documenting the life of the American Indians in the early days. Thank you for reading about him and commenting on my hub.

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