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Prairie du Chien, United States Garrison

1835-1836 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (49.5 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.333 Not currently on view

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“Prairie du Chien has been one of the earliest and principal trading posts of the Fur Company, and they now have a large establishment at that place; but doing far less business than formerly, owing to the great mortality of the Indians in its vicinity, and the destruction of the game, which has almost entirely disappeared in these regions. The prairie is a beautiful elevation above the river, of several miles in length, and a mile or so in width, with a most picturesque range of grassy bluffs encompassing it in the rear. The Government has erected there a substantial Fort, in which are generally stationed three or four companies of men, for the purpose . . . of keeping the peace amongst the hostile tribes, and also of protecting the frontier inhabitants from the attacks of the excited savages.” George Catlin probably sketched this landscape in 1835 during his visit to Prairie du Chien in present-day Wisconsin. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 52, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)


Architecture - military - fort

Landscape - river

Landscape - Wisconsin - Prairie du Chien



paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added