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Horseracing on a Course Behind the Mandan Village

1832-1833 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. 1985.66.432 Not currently on view

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Horse-racing here, as in all more enlightened communities, is one of the most exciting amusements, and one of the most extravagant modes of gambling . . . I have been this day a spectator . . . on a course which they have, just back of their village; and although I never had the least taste for this cruel amusement in my own country, yet, I must say, I have been not a little amused and pleased with the thrilling effect which these exciting scenes have produced amongst so wild and picturesque a group . . . I have made a sketch of the ground and the group, as near as I could; shewing the manner of ‘starting’ and ‘coming out,’ which vary a little from the customs of the knowing world; but in other respects, I believe, a horse-race is the same all the world over.” George Catlin made this sketch at a Mandan village in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 20, 1841; reprint 1973)


Animal - horse

Architecture Exterior - domestic - teepee

Ethnic - Indian - Mandan

Figure group

Recreation - sport and play - equestrian



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added