George Catlin

American , 1794 - 1872

George Catlin was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania in 1796. Since childhood he had a strong interest in Native Americans and although trained to become a lawyer, he gave up that profession to concentrate on depicting Indians in their native land and spent the rest of his life championing their cause. A self-taught artist, Catlin began painting portraits of political figures and in 1824 he was inspired by an Indian delegation passing through Pennsylvania. He decided that Indians and their culture would be his primary subject matter and in 1830 he moved to Saint Louis, Missouri to launch his career as an artist.

He practiced his artistic skills on visiting members of various tribes and in 1832 he traveled up the Missouri River to Fort Union. Consequent travels took him to the southern plains in 1834, the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Regions in 1835 and the sacred red pipestone quarry on the Coteau des Prairies in 1836.

Although primarily a painter, Catlin produced a number of prints, among them, “Archery of the Mandans. Plate No.24”, “Ball Play Dance. Plate No. 22” and “Buffalo Hunt, Chase Plate No.7”. Catlin presented some of his paintings to Congress in 1838, only to have them rejected. He found greater admiration for his work in Europe.
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Group of North American Indians


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