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View on the Wisconsin River, Winnebago Shooting Ducks

1836-1837 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 19 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (49.6 x 70.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.347 Not currently on view


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In the summer of 1836, George Catlin made his final journey to the West, to visit the sacred Pipestone Quarry in present-day Minnesota, where Plains Indians harvested the red steatite to make their pipe bowls. He journeyed west by steamer from New York through Sault Ste. Marie and Green Bay, paddling down the Wisconsin River, where he sketched this image of Winnebago Indians hunting ducks. Although familiar with the West’s stunning landscape since beginning his travels in 1830, Catlin found the country’s beauty---and his enthusiasm for it---inexhaustible. He later described the Wisconsin River as what “the French most appropriately denominate ‘La belle riviere,’ [it] may certainly vie with any other on the Continent . . . for its beautifully skirted banks and prairie bluffs. It may justly be said to be equal to the Mississippi . . .” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 54, 1841, reprint 1973; Truettner, The Natural Man Observed, 1979)

Keywords

Animal - bird - duck

Ethnic - Indian - Winnebago

Figure group - male

Landscape - river - Wisconsin River

Occupation - hunter

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added