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Hongs-káy-dee, Great Chief, Son of The Smoke

1832 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.97 Not currently on view

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George Catlin described Great Chief, son of the Ponca chief the Smoke, as a “youth of eighteen years . . . [who] distinguished himself in a singular manner the day before our steamer reached their village, by taking to him four wives in one day! This extraordinary and unprecedented freak of his, was just the thing to make him the greatest sort of medicine in the eyes of his people; and probably he may date much of his success and greatness through life, to this bold and original step, which suddenly raised him into notice and importance.” Catlin painted Great Chief at a Ponca village in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes , vol. 1, no. 26, 1841; reprint 1973)


Ethnic - Indian - Ponca

Portrait male - Great Chief


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added