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Four Dancers

1843-1844 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. 1985.66.386,439 Not currently on view


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George Catlin’s Indian Gallery did well on tour in London and other British cities, but inevitably its novelty wore off. To rekindle interest, Catlin added a new attraction in 1844, of nine Ojibwe from Canada who danced, sang, and “scalped” enemies, to the delight of the crowd. Not everyone was charmed, however, and Charles Dickens dismissed the group as a “party of Indians squatting and spitting . . . or dancing their miserable jigs after their own dreary manner.”

Keywords

Ceremony - dance

Ceremony - Indian

Figure group

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added