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Ke-chím-qua, Big Bear

1830 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.243 Not currently on view

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George Catlin probably painted this portrait of Ke-chím-qua, a member of the Kickapoo tribe, at Fort Leavenworth (in today’s Kansas) in 1830, the same year he took portraits of the Delaware, Kaskaskia, Peoria, and other tribes. Catlin’s efforts from 1830 are generally considered his first attempts at Indian portraits in the West. In his 1848 Catalogue, where he offered notes and descriptions of all the paintings in his Indian Gallery, Catlin described Ke-chím-qua as having a “wampum on his neck, and red flag in his hand, the symbol of war or ‘blood.’” (Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)


Ethnic - Indian - Kickapoo

Portrait male - Big Bear


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added