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Foot War Party on the March, Upper Missouri

1832 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 11 1/4 x 14 3/8 in. (28.5 x 36.5 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.367 Not currently on view

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“This party was made up of the most distinguished and desperate young men of the tribe, who had sallied out against the Riccarees, and taken the most solemn oath amongst themselves never to return without achieving a victory. They had wandered long and faithfully about the country, following the trails of their enemy; when they were attacked by a numerous party, and lost several of their men and all their horses . . . In this plight, it seems, I had dropped my little canoe alongside of them . . . Seated on their buffalo robes, which were spread upon the grass, with their respective weapons laying about them, and lighting their pipes at a little fire which was kindled in the centre---the chief or leader of the party, with his arms stacked behind him, and his long head-dress of war-eagles' quills and ermine falling down over his back, whilst he sat in a contemplative and almost desponding mood, was surely one of the most striking and beautiful illustrations of a natural hero that I ever looked upon.” George Catlin painted this work in 1832 on his first extended voyage up the Missouri River. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 20, 1841; reprint 1973)


Ethnic - Indian

Figure group - male

Landscape - river - Missouri River

Travel - land



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added