George Catlin: Native American paintings -related to Frederick Remington, illustrations plains Indians

Painting of Bull buffalo

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A Choctaw Woman 1834

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George Catlin

George Catlin (July 26, 1796—December 23, 1872) was an American painter, author and traveler who painted pictures of the Indians of the West, especially the Plains Indian tribes. When he took his exhibition of the Catlin Indian Gallery to London the pictures and lectures of Western Indians made it the “First Wild west Show.” He also painted some of the first pictures of American buffalo. His Native American paintings contributes to our knowledge of Native American history.

Catlin’s Indian gallery

In 1837 Catlin opened his Indian Gallery, which was a famous exhibition of Western paintings, according to most historians. However, according to the art appendix to Bernard DeVoto’s “Across the Wide Missouri,” he exhibited in both Buffalo and Pittsburgh a year earlier.

Buffalo Harbor

Buffalo Harbor from the village
Buffalo Harbor from the village | Source

Co-ee-ha-jo a seminol war chief

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Travels in the West

He made his first trip west in 1832. He traveled the Missouri river on the Steamboat Yellowstone . When the boat was delayed he had a chance to paint some Sioux at Fort Pierre. At Fort Union, east of the Montana line he painted Crows and Blackfeet. He then went by dugout with two companions to the Minnetarees (Hidatsa) and painted many canvases, as well as accounts of the Medicine Lodge ceremonies. He also went to St. Louis and painted Chief Black Hawk after he had been taken prisoner after the Black Hawk War.

His painting included Osages, Wichitas, Kaws, Otos, Wacos, Pawnees, Omahas, Iowas, Poncas, Chippawas, Winnebagos, Menomenies, Potawatomi, Sauk and Foxes.

In 1836 he went to the upper Mississippi to the Pipestone Quarry in Minnesota. He wrote the first description of the red claystone, which Indians used to make pipes, according to DeVoto. Wikipedia disputes his claim to be the first white man to investigate the quarry. According to DeVoto it was named “Catlinite” after him.

Bear Dance

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Osceola, Head Chief. Seminole

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La Crosse Players

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First Wild West Show

After opening the gallery he got plenty of publicity and promotion. He did open the Indian gallery in New York in 1837 with a catalog running thirty-six pages listing 494 paintings made during the previous five years. The gallery was exhibited in various cities until 1839 and he then took it to London.” There, as the first Wild West Show, it proved to be a sellout success,” DeVoto says, he was a celebrity and toured the continent with repeated success. It passed out of his hands in 1852 when his creditors brought most of it back to the United States. The National Museum became its permanent home.

Apparently it was a real show. He said he took eight tons of freight with him to England. There were two grizzly bears from the Rocky Mountains, over six hundred paintings that he kept adding to. There were two dozen dummies dressed in Indian costumes and a museum of medicine bundles, shields, amulets, basket, robes, travois, moccasins, weapons, pipes and other artifacts, according to Porter. There were also lectures by local people we would call reenactors now. Real Indians soon took their place.

In 1841 he published a book. Letters and notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians.

Iowa Indians who went to London and Paris

Wi-jún-jon, Going To and Returning From Washington
Wi-jún-jon, Going To and Returning From Washington | Source

Authors note:

Images are from  wikimedia commons. all are public domain unless otherwise indicated.

Critics

During his lifetime and even later his understanding, accuracy and reliability were attacked. According to Porter, he was a monomaniac who, he misunderstood much that he saw and had some wild theories. He also kept never lost a Rousseauian view of the “Nobel Savage”. He possibly even falsified of invented some details, however, she feels he is mainly reliable and his books and paintings are important to American ethnology since 1837.

Frederick Remington and Earl W Bascom are other old West artist that have family bloodlines to Catlin.

More by this Author


Comments 25 comments

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

dahoglund,

Thank you for the information on Catlin. I also like his paintings of which he was very prolific by painting almost 100 per year!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good Hub!!!!!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Tom

Thanks for your encouraging comment. I don't think we would know much about Indian life if it were not for these artists.


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

This is great. I do not get into a lot of these things, so to get this information is great.

Keep on hubbing!


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

This is great. I do not get into a lot of these things, so to get this information is great.

Keep on hubbing!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad I brought some information that you found useful.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Thanks Dahoglund. I'm not familiar with Catlin's work. It's good stuff. Thanks for the article.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting.I guess I think of it as part of our heritage.


creativeone59 6 years ago

Thank you dahoglund, for another wonderful and informative hub on indians paintings, thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I appreciate your reading it and commenting.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

Thanks for this article on George Catlin. Once again, I have seen paintings by Catlin but never knew who painted them. Good article!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for you comments. He was a prolific painter so there are a lot to see.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

I had no idea that George Catlin was related to Frederick Remington! The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has a sizeable Remington collection of paintings. As you stated, at least we have some representation of what the past was like due to these artists. Thanks!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for you comment. I don't imagine that they were very closely related.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Even if some of his depictions and renderings were embellished somewhat, from the looks of most of his art here, I'd say he had a fairly accurate view of things. Remarkable work.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for your comments. I'm not very sophisticated on art but I thought this work was important as historical documentation.


Deerwhisperer profile image

Deerwhisperer 6 years ago from Bradenton, Florida

Good story. I love reading anything about the old west. I believe this is because I grew up in a town surrounded by it. Very good indeed!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Deerwhisperer

Thank you for the visit and comment.I plan to write more article about the west and the artists that depicted it.


Ron 5 years ago

Catlin painted an excellent miniature portrait of the "Father of Texas," Stephen F. Austin, at a time when Austin was back east on business from Texas. After Catlin's trips up the Missouri River, he accompanied a cavalry expedition across the plains of north Texas. The Yellow Stone, detailed in my website, was later used on the Brazos River in helping ferry the Texas Army across the river to prepare for meeting the enemy. My ancestor, William C. Gill, was one of those men.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for adding this information.I appreciate your reading this and commenting.


AskAshlie3433 profile image

AskAshlie3433 5 years ago from WEST VIRGINIA

I think you did a wonderful job on this hub dahoglund! I have always been interested in our indian history. Thank you for sharing. Love the pics! lol


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I thank you very much for reading and commenting.


wannabwestern profile image

wannabwestern 5 years ago from The Land of Tractors

Catlin's ethnographic portraits of the tribes had about 500 or so images of native Americans in full tribal dress. These are available in prints so were reproduced quite prolifically, but that doesn't make his work any less amazing. I love Catlin, he is one of my favorite western artists. Speaking of the Blackhawk wars, have you written a hub on this topic yet? The Desert Caballeros Western museum in Wickenburg has an oil painting by Catlin on this subject in their collection. Worth a visit for anyone in the Phoenix Arizona area.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

I did write a hub "Chief Black Hawk and the Black Hawk War." I also wrote one on "Buffalo Bill Cody and the Wild west show" You might be interested because he is from the area you are living in.

You may know more about these artists than I do but I thought they were important to our knowledge of early American history.

Thanks for your comments.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..well you have a most excellent and world class array of fine hub subjects and I am most impressed - big fan too that I am of Frederic Remington so this particular story caught me eye - are you familiar with other hubbers here who dabble in the western story genre like Wayne Brown and Will Starr - you're in very good company indeed my friend - and so are they!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thank you for the praise and comment.Yes,I exchange comments with Wayne Brown and Will Starr. I forgot how it started but I began to write some short western stories due to something Will said

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