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Buffalo Bulls Fighting in Running Season, Upper Missouri

1837-1839 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 24 x 29 in. (60.9 x 73.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.424 Not currently on view

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“The ‘running season,’ which is in August and September, is the time when [the buffalo] congregate into such masses in some places, as literally to blacken the prairies for miles together. It is no uncommon thing at this season, at these gatherings, to see several thousands in a mass, eddying and wheeling about under a cloud of dust, which is raised by the bulls as they are pawing in the dirt, or engaged in desperate combats, as they constantly are, plunging and butting at each other in the most furious manner. In these scenes, the males are continually following the females, and the whole mass are in constant motion; and all bellowing (or ‘roaring’) in deep and hollow sounds; which, mingled altogether, appear, at the distance of a mile or two, like the sound of distant thunder.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 31, 1841; reprint 1973)


Animal - buffalo

Landscape - river - Missouri River

Landscape - United States



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added