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Braves' Dance at Fort Snelling

1835-1837 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (49.7 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.445 Not currently on view


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“[The Brave's Dance] is peculiarly beautiful, and exciting to the feelings in the highest degree . . . At intervals they stop, and one of them steps into the ring, and vociferates as loud as possible, with the most significant gesticulations, the feats of bravery which he has performed during his life---he boasts of the scalps he has taken---of the enemies he has vanquished, and at the same time carries his body through all the motions and gestures, which have been used during these scenes when they were transacted. At the end of his boasting, all assent to the truth of his story, and give in their approbation by the guttural ‘waugh!’ and the dance again commences. At the next interval, another makes his boasts, and another, and another, and so on.” George Catlin made initial sketches for this painting at Fort Snelling (in today’s Minnesota) in 1835. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 51, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ceremony - dance - Brave's Dance

Ceremony - Indian

Ethnic - Indian - Dakota

Ethnic - Indian - Sioux

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added