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Catlin and His Indian Guide Approaching Buffalo under White Wolf Skins

1846-1848 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 20 x 27 1/4 in. (50.9 x 69.2 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.590 Not currently on view

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George Catlin and the Indian guide, covered in wolf skins and with weapons at the ready, creep up on a herd of buffalo. The artist painted several versions of this theme, inspired by his lament that “the poor buffaloes have their enemy man, besetting and besieging them at all times of the year and in all the modes that man . . . has been able to devise for their destruction. They struggle in vain to evade his deadly shafts . . . While the herd of buffaloes are together, they seem to have little dread of the wolf, and allow them to come in close company with them. The Indian then has taken advantage of this fact, and often places himself under the skin of this animal, and crawls for half a mile or more on his hands and knees, until he approaches within a few rods of the unsuspecting group, and easily shoots down the fattest of the throng.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 31, 1841; reprint 1973)


Animal - buffalo

Ethnic - Indian

Figure group - male

Portrait male - Catlin, George - self-portrait

Recreation - sport and play - hunting


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added