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River Bluffs, 1320 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. 1985.66.399 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 2B


Luce Center Label

On his long river voyage of 1832, George Catlin painted dream-like views of sunlit bluffs on the upper Missouri that preserve a now-lost world. Indians had shaped this landscape by setting fires that curbed tree growth; when the Indians were gone, so were the “beautiful clear-cut outlines of these billowy slopes.”

Artwork Description

George Catlin's Indian Gallery is an unparalleled collection of great artistic and historic significance that contributes to understanding America's frontier and the cultures of the Native Americans who lived there. George Catlin (1796-1872) was the first major artist to travel beyond the Mississippi to record what he called the "manner and customs" of American Indians, painting scenes and portraits from life. He wanted to document these native cultures before they were irrevocably altered by settlement of the frontier and the mass migrations forced by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Between 1830 and 1836, Catlin took five trips across the Great Plains, eventually visiting fifty tribes. The nearly complete surviving set of Catlin's first Indian Gallery, painted in the 1830s, constitutes more than five hundred works.

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Commemorative Guide. Nashville, TN: Beckon Books, 2015.

Keywords

Ethnic - Indian

Figure male

Landscape - river

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added