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Picturesque Clay Bluff, 1700 Miles above St. Louis

1832 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 11 1/4 x 14 3/8 in. (28.5 x 36.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.380 Not currently on view

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“At the base of one of these [bluffs] . . . we with difficulty landed our canoe, and I ascended to its top, with some hours' labour; having to cut a foot-hold in the clay with my hatchet for each step, a great part of the way up its sides. So curious was this solitary bluff, standing alone as it did, to the height of 250 feet, with its sides washed down into hundreds of variegated forms---with large blocks of indurated clay, remaining upon pedestals and columns as it were, and with such a variety of tints; that I looked upon it as a beautiful picture, and devoted an hour or two with my brush, in transferring it to my canvas.” George Catlin painted this landscape during a voyage along the Missouri River in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 10, 1841; reprint 1973)


Landscape - mountain

Landscape - river



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added