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Mah-tó-che-ga, Little Bear, a Hunkpapa Brave

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. 1985.66.84 Not currently on view

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George Catlin painted Little Bear at Fort Pierre, on the west bank of the Missouri near what is now known as the Bad River. While the artist worked on this portrait, the Dog, a chief of the Bad Arrow Points Band, noticed that Catlin only showed a three-quarter view of his subject and commented that Little Bear was “but half a man.” The Indians began to argue and after Catlin completed the portrait, the Dog followed Little Bear home, where the two men fought and Little Bear was killed. (Gurney and Heyman, eds., George Catlin and His Indian Gallery, 2002)


Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Hunkpapa

Object - weapon - axe

Portrait male - Little Bear - bust


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added