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La-dóo-ke-a, Buffalo Bull, a Grand Pawnee Warrior

1832 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. 1985.66.100 Not currently on view

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Described by George Catlin “as a warrior of great distinction,” Buffalo Bull appears “with his medicine or totem (the head of a buffalo) painted on his breast and his face, with bow and arrow in his hands.” This unfinished portrait provides a key to Catlin’s working methods in the West, where he had to work quickly. During Buffalo Bull’s sitting, Catlin focused on his face and his totem (the buffalo head painted on his chest, partially hidden behind a large peace medal). The artist usually finished bodies and costume details in an urban studio. (Catlin, Letters and Notes , vol. 2, no. 34, 1841, reprint 1973; Gurney and Heyman, eds., George Catlin and His Indian Gallery , 2002)


Dress - accessory - jewelry

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Pawnee

Object - weapon - bow and arrow

Portrait male - Buffalo Bull - full length


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added