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Kay-a-gís-gis, a Young Woman

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. 1985.66.183 Not currently on view


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George Catlin described Kay-a-gís-gis as “a beautiful young woman pulling her hair out of braid.” Catlin painted this portrait at Fort Union in the upper Midwest in 1832, and it was one of his first attempts to show facial expression. The woman’s smile, somewhat forced, but engagingly shy and self-conscious, is an indication of the artist's growing perception of individual qualities among subjects whose appearance had not been critically examined before. (Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)

Keywords

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Ojibwa

Portrait female - Kay A Gis Gis

Portrait female - Kay A Gis Gis - bust

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added