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Portraits of a Grizzly Bear and Mouse, Life Size

1846-1848 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 26 5/8 x 32 1/2 in. (67.5 x 82.5 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.603 Not currently on view

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George Catlin included two grizzly bears in the eight tons of material for his Indian Gallery that he brought to England in 1839. But the bears were destructive pests and Catlin eventually sold them to London’s Zoological Gardens in October, 1840. European audiences had to content themselves with life-size portraits such as this, in which the presence of a familiar, if bold, little mouse establishes the bear’s huge size.


Animal - bear

Animal - mouse

Animal - portrait


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added