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His-oo-sán-chees, Little Spaniard, a Warrior

1834 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. 1985.66.51 Not currently on view


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George Catlin painted Little Spaniard at the Comanche village in 1834. Impressed with the Comanche warrior, he later wrote of Little Spaniard as “A gallant little fellow . . . represented to us as one of the leading warriors of the tribe; and no doubt . . . one of the most extraordinary men at present living in these regions. He is half Spanish, and being a half-breed, for whom they generally have the most contemptuous feelings, he has been all his life thrown into the front of battle and danger; at which posts he has signalized himself, and commanded the highest admiration and respect of the tribe for his daring and adventurous career. This is the man . . . who dashed out so boldly from the war-party, and came to us with the white flag raised on the point of his lance . . . I have here represented him as he stood for me, with his shield on his arm, with his quiver slung, and his lance of fourteen feet in length in his right hand. This extraordinary little man, whose figure was light, seemed to be all bone and muscle, and exhibited immense power, by the curve of the bones in his legs and his arms. We had many exhibitions of his extraordinary strength, as well as agility; and of his gentlemanly politeness and friendship we had as frequent evidences.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 42, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Dress - accessory - shield

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Comanche

Object - weapon - spear

Portrait male - Little Spaniard - full length

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added