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Black Knife, an Apache Warrior

1846 John Mix Stanley Born: Canandaigua, New York 1814 Died: Detroit, Michigan 1872 oil on canvas 42 1/2 x 52 in. (107.8 x 132.1 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of the Misses Henry 1985.66.248,933 Not currently on view

Gallery Label

Baishan, also known as Black Knife, or his Spanish name, Cuchillo Negro, was a celebrated Apache chief.  His raids on Mexico made him a nominal ally of the United States army battalions sent to the area following the outbreak of the Mexican War.  The Apache focused on protecting their ancestral lands, which had become a battleground contested by both the Mexicans and Americans.  The U.S. Army sought to establish American control over Santa Fe and other southwestern outposts; in 1845, John Mix Stanley joined Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny's expedition through Santa Fe to California to put down Mexican uprisings.  In late October 1846 Kearny‚Äôs troops encountered Black Knife, here seen scouting the position of the army troops, near what is now the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.  The landscape portrays the Rio Gila, which runs through Arizona and New Mexico. Stanley composed the landscape based on his sketches of the nearby geological features and the native plants, adding a sense of authenticity to his painting's narrative.


Ethnic - Indian - Apache


Portrait male - Black Knife - equestrian portrait


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About John Mix Stanley

Born: Canandaigua, New York 1814 Died: Detroit, Michigan 1872

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John Mix Stanley