- Arts and Design
George Catlin: Native American paintings -related to Frederick Remington, illustrations plains Indians
Painting of Bull buffalo
A Choctaw Woman 1834
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.
Co-ee-ha-jo a seminol war chief
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.
Osceola, Head Chief. Seminole
La Crosse Players
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
Images are from wikimedia commons. all are public domain unless otherwise indicated.
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.
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