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Elk and Buffalo Making Acquaintance, Texas

1846-1848 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (49.7 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.581 Not currently on view


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“One of the most remarkable characteristics of the buffalo, is the peculiar formation and expression of the eye, the ball of which is very large and white, and the iris jet black. The lids of the eye seem always to be strained quite open, and the ball rolling forward and down; so that a considerable part of the iris is hidden behind the lower lid, while the pure white of the eyeball glares out over it in an arch, in the shape of a moon at the end of its first quarter . . . I saw in the grass, on the bank above me, what I supposed to be the back of a fine elk, busy at his grazing. I let our craft float silently by for a little distance, when I communicated the intelligence to my men, and slily ran in, to the shore. I pricked the priming of my firelock, and taking a bullet or two in my mouth, stepped ashore, and trailing my rifle in my hand, went back under the bank, carefully crawling up in a little ravine, quite sure of my game; when, to my utter surprise and violent alarm, I found the elk to be no more nor less than an Indian pony, getting his breakfast! and a little beyond him, a number of others grazing.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, nos. 10, 31, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Animal - buffalo

Animal - deer

Figure group - male

Landscape - Texas

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added