George Catlin (July 26, 1796 – December 23, 1872) was an American painter, author, and traveler, who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West. Travelling to the American West five times during the 1830s, Catlin was the first white man to depict Plains Indians in their native territory.
George Catlin by William Fisk, 1849
|Born||July 26, 1796|
|Died||December 23, 1872 (aged 76)|
|Spouse(s)||Clara Bartlett Gregory|
George Catlin was born in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. As a child growing up in Pennsylvania, Catlin had spent many hours hunting, fishing, and looking for American Indian artifacts. His fascination with Native Americans was kindled by his mother, who told him stories of the western frontier and how she was captured by a tribe when she was a young girl. Years later, a group of Native Americans came through Philadelphia dressed in their colorful outfits and made quite an impression on Catlin.
His early work included engravings, drawn from nature, of sites along the route of the Erie Canal in New York State. Several of his renderings were published in one of the first printed books to use lithography, Cadwallader D. Colden's Memoir, Prepared at the Request of a Committee of the Common Council of the City of New York, and Presented to the Mayor of the City, at the Celebration of the Completion of the New York Canals, published in 1825, with early images of the City of Buffalo.
Following a brief career as an attorney, Catlin produced two major collections of paintings of American Indians and published a series of books chronicling his travels among the native peoples of North, Central, and South America. Spurred by relics brought back by the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–1806 owned by his friend, Charles Willson Peale, and claiming that his interest in America's 'vanishing race' was inspired by a visiting American Indian delegation in Philadelphia, he set out to record the appearance and customs of America's native peoples.
Catlin began his journey in 1830 when he accompanied General William Clark on a diplomatic mission up the Mississippi River into Native American territory. St. Louis became Catlin’s base of operations for five trips he took between 1830 and 1836, eventually visiting fifty tribes. Two years later he ascended the Missouri River more than 3000 km to Fort Union Trading Post, near what is now the North Dakota-Montana border, where he spent several weeks among indigenous people who were still relatively untouched by European culture. He visited eighteen tribes, including the Pawnee, Omaha, and Ponca in the south and the Mandan, Hidatsa, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine, and Blackfeet to the north. There he produced the most vivid and penetrating portraits of his career. During later trips along the Arkansas, Red, and Mississippi rivers, as well as visits to Florida and the Great Lakes, he produced more than 500 paintings and gathered a substantial collection of artifacts.
When Catlin returned east in 1838, he assembled the paintings and numerous artifacts into his Indian Gallery, and began delivering public lectures that drew on his personal recollections of life among the American Indians. Catlin traveled with his Indian Gallery to major cities such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and New York. He hung his paintings "salon style"—side by side and one above another. Visitors identified each painting by the number on the frame, as listed in Catlin's catalogue. Soon afterward, he began a lifelong effort to sell his collection to the U.S. government. The touring Indian Gallery did not attract the paying public Catlin needed to stay financially sound, and the United States Congress rejected his initial petition to purchase the works.
In 1839 Catlin took his collection across the Atlantic for a tour of European capitals. As a showman and entrepreneur, he initially attracted crowds to his Indian Gallery in London, Brussels, and Paris. The French critic Charles Baudelaire remarked on Catlin’s paintings, "He has brought back alive the proud and free characters of these chiefs, both their nobility and manliness."
Catlin wanted to sell his Indian Gallery to the U.S. government to have his life’s work preserved intact. His continued attempts to persuade various officials in Washington, D.C. to buy the collection failed. In 1852 he was forced to sell the original Indian Gallery, now 607 paintings, due to personal debts. The industrialist Joseph Harrison acquired the paintings and artifacts, which he stored in a factory in Philadelphia, as security.
Catlin spent the last 20 years of his life trying to re-create his collection, and recreated more than 400 paintings. This second collection of paintings is known as the "Cartoon Collection," since the works are based on the outlines he drew of the works from the 1830s.
In 1841 Catlin published Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians, in two volumes, with approximately 300 engravings. Three years later he published 25 plates, entitled Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio, and, in 1848, Eight Years' Travels and Residence in Europe. From 1852 to 1857 he traveled through South and Central America and later returned for further exploration in the Far West. The record of these later years is contained in Last Rambles amongst the Indians of the Rocky Mountains and the Andes (1868) and My Life among the Indians (ed. by N. G. Humphreys, 1909). Paintings of his Spanish American Indians are published.
In 1872, Catlin traveled to Washington, D.C. at the invitation of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian. Until his death later that year in Jersey City, New Jersey, Catlin worked in a studio in the Smithsonian "Castle." In 1879 Harrison’s widow donated the original Indian Gallery, more than 500 works, along with related artifacts, to the Smithsonian.
The nearly complete surviving set of Catlin's first Indian Gallery, painted in the 1830s, is now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection. The associated Catlin artifacts are in the collections of the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian. Some 700 sketches are held by the American Museum of Natural History, New York City. Some artifacts from Catlin are in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collections. The Huntington Library in San Marino, California also holds 239 of Catlin's illustrations of both North and South American Indians, as well as other illustrative and manuscript material by Catlin.
The accuracy of some of Catlin's observations has been questioned. He claimed to be the first white man to see the Minnesota pipestone quarries, and pipestone was named catlinite. Catlin exaggerated various features of the site, and his boastful account of his visit aroused his critics, who disputed his claim of being the first white man to investigate the quarry. Previous recorded white visitors include the Groselliers and Radisson, Father Louis Hennepin, Baron LaHonton, and others. Lewis and Clark noted the pipestone quarry in their journals in 1805. The fur trader Philander Prescott had written another account of the area in 1831.
Catlin appears to have written an eccentric book, which was in an eighth edition by 1882, entitled Shut Your Mouth. This is a serious essay suggesting that all manner of ills arise in people who were slack jawed, people who do not routinely keep their mouths closed. The title page of the eighth edition says "by George Catlin, author of 'Notes of Travels Amongst the North-American Indians' Etc., Etc." A facsimile of a signature appears on the book's last page.
In it, the author claims that even too much talking is harmful because of the mouth being open for the purpose. "There is no person in society but who will find... improvement in health and enjoyment..." from keeping his or her mouth shut. The work runs to 102 pages. He signs a note at the end of the eighth edition "The Author, Rio Grande, Brazil, 1860".
George Catlin met Clara Bartlett Gregory in 1828 in her hometown of Albany, New York. After their marriage, she accompanied him on one of his journeys west. They eventually had four children. Clara and his youngest son died while visiting Paris in 1845.
Many historians and descendants believe George Catlin had two families; his acknowledged family on the east coast of the United States, but also a family farther west, started with a Native American woman.
Larry McMurtry includes Catlin as a character in his The Berrybender Narratives series of novels. In the historical novel The Children of First Man, James Alexander Thom recreates the time Catlin spent with the Mandan people. The 1970 film A Man Called Horse cites Catlin's work as one of the sources for its depiction of Lakota Sioux culture. Catlin and his work figure repeatedly in the 2010 novel Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich, where he is the subject of the unfinished doctoral dissertation of character Irene America.
...nevertheless, the artist, who viewed himself as a visual historian documenting a "vanishing race," produced a wide array of portraits and landscapes that provide us with a partial glimpse into Indian Country from the late 1820s until the artist's death in 1872.
Amory Hall (c. 1834 – c. 1888) was located on the corner of Washington Street and West Street in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 19th century. Myriad activities took place in the rental hall, including sermons; lectures by Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison; political meetings; exhibitions by Rembrandt Peale, George Catlin, John Banvard; moving panoramas; magic shows; concerts; and curiosities such as the "Nova Scotia Giant Boy."
Through the years, tenants included: First Free Congregational Church (c. 1836); Grace Church (1836); artists Eastman Johnson, J.C. King, N. Southworth, T.T. Spear, William S. Tiffany (c.1847); Oliver Stearns, retailer of artists' supplies (1849–1850); artists J.A. Codman, A. Ransom, and R.M. Staigg (c.1852).In 1888, the hall was acquired by retailer William H. Zinn and incorporated into his "Connected Stores" occupying the block bounded by West and Washington Streets and Temple Place.Assiniboine
The Assiniboine or Assiniboin people ( when singular, when plural; Ojibwe: Asiniibwaan, "stone Sioux"; also in plural Assiniboine or Assiniboin), also known as the Hohe and known by the endonym Nakota (or Nakoda or Nakona), are a First Nations/Native American people originally from the Northern Great Plains of North America.
Today, they are centered in present-day Saskatchewan. They have also populated parts of Alberta and southwestern Manitoba in Canada, and northern Montana and western North Dakota in the United States. They were well known throughout much of the late 18th and early 19th century, and were members of the Iron Confederacy with the Cree. Images of Assiniboine people were painted by such 19th-century artists as Karl Bodmer and George Catlin.Bison (novel)
Buffalo is the twenty-fourth novel of Patrick Grainville, published in Éditions du Seuil on January 2, 2014.Blackbird Hill
Blackbird Hill, about three miles south of Macy, Nebraska, also known as Big Elk Hill, is a historic site which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.It was a traditional burial site of Omaha chiefs, including Blackbird The site was visited by Lewis and Clark in 1804. It includes petroglyphs. It is on private land and is not open to the public.It was painted by George Catlin and by Karl Bodmer.Buffalo Bull's Back Fat
Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, or Stu-mick-o-súcks (in the Blackfoot language), was a head war chief of the Blood Indians. He is remembered today for his portrait, painted by George Catlin in 1832, located at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. In one of his letters, Catlin wrote:
I have this day been painting a portrait of the head chief of the [Blood tribe] … he is a good-looking and dignified Indian, about fifty years of age, and superbly dressed; whilst sitting for his picture he has been surrounded by his own braves and warriors and also gazed at by his enemies, the Crows and the Knisteneaux, Assinneboins and Ojibbeways; a number of distinguished personages of each of which tribes have laid all day around the sides of my room; reciting to each other the battles they have fought, and pointing to the scalp-locks, worn as proofs of their victories, and attached to the seams of their shirts and leggings.
The name of this dignitary of whom I have just spoken is Stu-mick-o-sucks (the buffalo's back fat), i.e., the ‘hump’ or ‘fleece’ the most delicious part of the buffalo's flesh. … The dress … of the chief … consists of a shirt or tunic, made of two deerskins finely dressed, and so placed together with the necks of the skins downwards, and the skins of the hind legs stitched together, the seams running down on each arm, from the neck to the knuckles of the hand; this seam is covered with a band of two inches in width, of very beautiful embroidery of porcupine quills, and suspended from the under edge of this, from the shoulders to the hands, is a fringe of the locks of black hair, which he has taken from the heads of victims slain by his own hand in battle. … In his hand he holds a very beautiful pipe, the stem of which is four or five feet long, and two inches wide, curiously wound with braids of the porcupine quills of various colours; and the bowl of the pipe ingeniously carved by himself from a piece of red steatite of an interesting character, and which they all tell me is procured somewhere between this place and the Falls of St. Anthony, on the head waters of the Mississippi.
The painting appeared in the exhibit Pictures from the New World at Schloss Charlottenburg, which was held in the Orangerie of Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, Germany, in 1989.Catlin Hall
Catlin Hall, also known as George Catlin Hall and Reynolds House, is a historic dormitory located on the campus of Wilkes University at Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1843, and is a 2 1/2-story, rectangular brick building in the Greek Revival style. It has a two-story rear wing. It was built as the Reynolds family residence and used as such into the 1950s, after which it was sold to Wilkes College in 1957. It was used as the women's residence hall and named for Wilkes-Barre native, painter George Catlin.It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.Chunkey
Chunkey (also known as chunky, chenco, tchung-kee or the hoop and stick game ) is a game of Native American origin. It was played by rolling disc-shaped stones across the ground and throwing spears at them in an attempt to land the spear as close to the stopped stone as possible. It originated around 600 CE in the Cahokia region of what is now the United States (near modern St. Louis, Missouri). Chunkey was played in huge arenas as large as 47 acres (19 ha) that housed great audiences designed to bring people of the region together (i.e. Cahokians, farmers, immigrants, and even visitors). It continued to be played after the fall of the Mississippian culture around 1500 CE. Variations were played throughout North America. Early ethnographer James Adair translated the name to mean "running hard labor". Gambling was frequently connected with the game, with some players wagering everything they owned on the outcome of the game. Losers were even known to commit suicide.First Dragoon Expedition
The First Dragoon Expedition of 1834 (also known as the Dodge-Leavenworth Expedition) was an exploratory mission of the United States Army into the southwestern Great Plains of the United States. It was the first official contact between the American government and the Southern Plains Indians.Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site is the site of a partially reconstructed trading post on the Missouri River and the North Dakota/Montana border, 25 miles from Williston, North Dakota. It is one of the earliest declared National Historic Landmarks in the United States. The fort, possibly first known as Fort Henry or Fort Floyd, was built in 1828 or 1829 by the Upper Missouri Outfit managed by Kenneth McKenzie and capitalized by John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company.Fort Union was the most important fur trading post on the upper Missouri until 1867. It was instrumental in developing the fur trade in Montana. Here Assiniboine, Crow, Cree, Ojibwe, Blackfoot, Hidatsa, Lakota, and other tribes traded buffalo robes and furs for trade goods including items such as beads, clay pipes, guns, blankets, knives, cookware, cloth, and alcohol. Historic visitors to the fort included John James Audubon, George Catlin, Sha-có-pay, Father Pierre DeSmet, Sitting Bull, Karl Bodmer, Hugh Glass, and Jim Bridger.
The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and was named Fort Union Trading Post by the National Park Service to differentiate it from Fort Union National Monument, a historic frontier Army post in New Mexico.
Today, the partially reconstructed Fort Union interprets how portions of the fort may have looked in 1851, based on archaeological excavations as well as sketches by contemporaries, including Rudolf Kurz, the post clerk in 1851.Francis White Cloud
Francis White Cloud (died 1859) was an Ioway chief, also called White Cloud II. He was son of Mahaska. Both father and son were called Mahaska and White Cloud.
Francis White Cloud was married to Mary Many Days Robidoux, daughter of French-American fur trader Joseph Robidoux. Their sons, James White Cloud and Jefferson White Cloud, would also be named Ioway chiefs. Francis White Cloud was known in his time for participating in a tour of Europe in 1844 and was painted by George Catlin. Francis White Cloud was also the close friend and benefactor of Jeffrey Deroine, the translator and diplomat.George Catlin (disambiguation)
George Catlin (1796–1872) was an American painter noted for portraits of Native Americans.
George Catlin may also refer to:
George Catlin (musical instrument maker) (1778–1852), American maker of woodwind instruments
George S. Catlin (1808–1851), U.S. Representative from Connecticut
Sir George Catlin (political scientist) (1896–1979), English political scientist and philosopherGeorge Catlin (musical instrument maker)
George Catlin (1778-1852) was a prominent American maker of musical instruments. He worked in Hartford, Connecticut from 1799 or earlier until about 1814, when he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. According to his advertisements in Connecticut newspapers he made pianofortes, harpsichords, violoncellos, guitars, bassoons, clarinets, "hautboys" (oboes), flutes, and fifes.Catlin designed and manufactured an instrument of his own devising called a "patent clarion." This was a bassoon-shaped bass clarinet, similar to but apparently designed independently of similar instruments developed starting in the late 18th century in Europe. Catlin appears to have been one of the first successful manufacturers of bass clarinets in the world. An alto clarinet, unsigned but of similar design to Catlin's bass clarinets and very probably by him or one of his students, has survived; made circa 1820, it is one of the first known examples of the instrument.George Catlin (political scientist)
Sir George Edward Gordon Catlin (26 July 1896 – 7 February 1979) was an English political scientist and philosopher. A strong proponent of Anglo-American co-operation, he worked for many years as a professor at Cornell University and other universities and colleges in the United States and Canada. He preached the use of a natural science model for political science. McMaster University Libraries hold his correspondence archive and the body of some of his works. He had two children, one of whom is the politician and academic Shirley Williams.George Catlin Woodruff
George Catlin Woodruff (December 1, 1805 – November 21, 1885) was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut's 4th congressional district from 1861 to 1863. He also served as member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1851, 1866, and 1874. He served terms as court clerk, justice of the peace, grand juror, probate judge, postmaster, town treasurer, town clerk, president and director of a bank, and colonel in the militia.Lone Horn
Lone Horn (Lakota: Hewáŋžiča, or in historical spelling "Heh-won-ge-chat" or "Ha-wón-je-tah"), also called One Horn (1790 –1877), born in present-day South Dakota), was chief of the Wakpokinyan (Flies Along the Stream) band of the Minneconjou Lakota.
Lone Horn's sons were Spotted Elk (later known as Big Foot) and Touch the Clouds, and Crazy Horse was his nephew. He participated in the signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, which reads "Heh-won-ge-chat, his x mark, One Horn" Old Chief Smoke (1774–1864) was Lone Horn's maternal uncle.
Lone Horn died near Bear Butte in 1877 from old age. After Lone Horn's death his adopted son Spotted Elk eventually became chief of the Minneconjou and was later killed along with his people at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.Osceola
Osceola (1804 – January 30, 1838, Asi-yahola in Creek), named Billy Powell at birth in Alabama, became an influential leader of the Seminole people in Florida. Of mixed parentage, including Creek, Scottish, African American, and English, he was considered born to his mother's people in the Creek matrilineal kinship system. He was reared by her in the Creek tradition. When he was a child, they migrated to Florida with other Red Stick refugees after their group's defeat in 1814 in the Creek Wars. There they became part of what was known as the Seminole people.
In 1836, Osceola led a small group of warriors in the Seminole resistance during the Second Seminole War, when the United States tried to remove the tribe from their lands in Florida to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. He became an adviser to Micanopy, the principal chief of the Seminole from 1825 to 1849. Osceola led the Seminole resistance to removal until he was captured on October 21, 1837, by deception, under a flag of truce, when he went to a site near Fort Peyton for peace talks. The United States first imprisoned him at Fort Marion in St. Augustine, then transported him to Fort Moultrie in Charleston, South Carolina. He died there a few months later of causes reported as an internal infection or malaria. Because of his renown, Osceola attracted visitors in prison, including renowned artist George Catlin, who painted perhaps the most well-known portrait of the Seminole leader.Piebaldism
Piebaldism is a rare autosomal dominant disorder of melanocyte development. Common characteristics include a congenital white forelock, scattered normal pigmented and hypopigmented macules and a triangular shaped depigmented patch on the forehead. There is nevertheless great variation in the degree and pattern of presentation, even within affected families. In some cases, piebaldism occurs together with severe developmental problems, as in Waardenburg syndrome and Hirschsprung's disease. It has been documented to occur in all races; early photographers captured many images of African piebalds used as a form of amusement, and George Catlin is believed to have painted several portraits of Native Americans of the Mandan tribe who were affected by piebaldism. Piebaldism is found in nearly every species of mammal. It is very common in mice, rabbits, dogs, sheep, deer, cattle and horses—where selective breeding has increased the incidence of the mutation-, but occurs among chimpanzees and other primates only as rarely as among humans. Piebaldism is completely unrelated to acquired or infectious conditions such as vitiligo or poliosis.
"Pie" is a word for multi-colored and "bald" is related to a root word for "skin." Although piebaldism may visually appear to be partial albinism, it is a fundamentally different condition. The vision problems associated with albinism are not usually present as eye pigmentation is normal. Piebaldism differs from albinism in that the affected cells maintain the ability to produce pigment but have that specific function turned off. In albinism the cells lack the ability to produce pigment altogether. Human piebaldism has been observed to be associated with a very wide range and varying degrees of endocrine disorders, and is occasionally found together with heterochromia of the irises, congenital deafness, or incomplete gastrointestinal tract development, possibly all with the common cause of premature cutting off of human fetal growth hormone during gestation. Piebaldism is a kind of neurocristopathy, involving defects of various neural crest cell lineages that include melanocytes, but also involving many other tissues derived from the neural crest. Oncogenic factors, including mistranscription, are hypothesized to be related to the degree of phenotypic variation among affected individuals.Salvage ethnography
Salvage ethnography is the recording of the practices and folklore of cultures threatened with extinction, including as a result of modernization. It is generally associated with the American anthropologist Franz Boas; he and his students aimed to record vanishing Native American cultures. Since the 1960s, anthropologists have used the term as part of a critique of 19th-century ethnography and early modern anthropology.Wi-jún-jon
Wi-jún-jon, also called Pigeon's Egg Head or The Light (1796–1872) was a Native American chief of the Assiniboine tribe. Best known for appearing the painting by George Catlin, depicting what happened after he was assimilated into white culture following a trip to Washington, D.C., in 1832.
Caitlin wrote that Wi-jún-jon "exchanged his beautifully garnished and classic costume" for
a suit of "broadcloth, of finest blue, trimmed with lace of gold; on his shoulders were mounted two immense epaulets; his neck was strangled with a shining black stock and his feet were pinioned in a pair of water-proof boots, with high heels which made him 'step like a yoked hog'."
A print based on the painting, showing Wi-jún-jon wearing Assiniboine dress and a Western suit, titled Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head, Going to Washington, returning to his house, became quite popular, appearing in a German magazine, Die Gartenlaube in 1853.After he had returned Wi-Jun-Jon was called the best healer in his tribe by 'using the white man's magic' and his tribe believed that no bullet could pierce his skin. Later this was proven wrong as a white man shot him, afterwards spreading the rumor stating his own tribe had killed him, after he was caught bragging and lying to them to justify the slaughtering of Native Americans.