Thursday, July 16, 2015

George Catlin

Stu-mick-o-sucks, Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe
oil on canvas
73.7 × 61 cm
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C., USA
for more paintings of this artist
art group of Imaginary-Museum

"If my life be spared, nothing shall stop me from visiting every nation of Indians on the Continent of North America." (George Catlin)

George Catlin (1796-1872), born in Pennsylvania, was an American self-taught artist and author.
He made the most extensive and important record of life among Native Americans in North America through his drawings, paintings, and writings. He was the first great painter to travel beyond the Mississippi to paint the Indians, and his Indian Gallery, staggering in its ambition and scope, is one of the wonders of the nineteenth century.

He practiced law for a short time as his father was a retired lawyer, but in 1823 turned to portrait painting, in which he was self-taught. After achieving important commissions and critical acclaim, he was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1826.

He had been interested in Native American life from his boyhood, and in 1828, after encountering a delegation of Plains Indians in Philadelphia on their way to Washington, D.C., he became determined to record the Native American heritage before it was destroyed by the onslaught of the advancing American frontier. In 1830 he traveled west to St. Louis, and he began a series of visits to various tribes, chiefly in the Great Plains. He made more than 500 paintings and sketches based on his observations during his travels and exhibited these works in the United States and Europe as the Indian Gallery. In 1841 he published his best-known book, the two-volume Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians, which was illustrated with many engravings.