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Buffalo Chase, a Surround by the Hidatsa

1832-1833 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. 1985.66.409 Not currently on view


Luce Center Label

“We soon descried at a distance, a fine herd of buffaloes grazing, when a halt and a council were ordered and the mode of attack was agreed upon. I had armed myself with my pencil and my sketch-book only, and consequently took my position generally in the rear, where I could see and appreciate every manoeuvre. The plan of attack, which in this country is familiarly called a ‘surround,’ was explicitly agreed upon, and the hunters who were all mounted on their ‘buffalo horses’ and armed with bows and arrows or long lances, divided into two columns, taking opposite directions, and drew themselves gradually around the herd at a mile or more distance from them; thus forming a circle of horsemen at equal distances apart, who gradually closed in upon them with a moderate pace, at a signal given. The unsuspecting herd at length ‘got the wind’ of the approaching enemy and fled in a mass in the greatest confusion.” George Catlin sketched this scene on the Upper Missouri in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 24, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Animal - buffalo

Animal - horse

Ethnic - Indian - Hidatsa

Figure group - male

Occupation - hunter

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added