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Beautiful Prairie Bluffs above the Poncas, 1050 Miles above St. Louis

1832 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 11 1/4 x 14 3/8 in. (28.5 x 36.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.397 Not currently on view

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"The summit level of the great prairies stretching off to the west and the east from the river, to an almost boundless extent, is from two to three hundred feet above the level of the river; which has formed a bed or valley for its course, varying in width from two to twenty miles. This channel or valley has been evidently produced by the force of the current, which has gradually excavated, in its floods and gorges, this immense space, and sent its debris into the ocean. By the continual overflowing of the river, its deposits have been lodged and left with a horizontal surface, spreading the deepest and richest alluvion over the surface of its meadows on either side; through which the river winds its serpentine course, alternately running from one bluff to the other, which present themselves to its shores in all the most picturesque and beautiful shapes and colours imaginable---some with their green sides gracefully slope down in the most lovely groups to the water's edge." George Catlin sketched this scene during a voyage on the Missouri River in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 3, 1841; reprint 1973)


Landscape - mountain - Poncas Mountains

Landscape - plain

Landscape - United States


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added