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Discovery Dance, Sac and Fox

1835-1837 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (49.5 x 69.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.448 Not currently on view

Luce Center Label

“The Discovery Dance has been given here, amongst various others, and pleased the bystanders very much; it was exceedingly droll and picturesque, and acted out with a great deal of pantomimic effect---without music, or any other noise than the patting of their feet, which all came simultaneously on the ground, in perfect time, whilst they were dancing forward two or four at a time, in a skulking posture, overlooking the country, and professing to announce the approach of animals or enemies which they have discovered, by giving the signals back to the leader of the dance.” George Catlin first sketched this scene at a Sac and Fox village in 1835. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 56, 1841; reprint 1973)


Ceremony - dance - Discovery Dance

Ethnic - Indian - Sauk and Fox

Ethnic - Indian - Sauk and Fox

Figure group - male


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added