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Weapons and Physiognomy of the Grizzly Bear

1846-1848 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 26 5/8 x 32 5/8 in. (67.5 x 82.8 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.563 Not currently on view


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The prairies of the 1830s were a paradise for animal predators as well as enthusiastic huntsmen. Eagles, wolves, mountain lions, and grizzly bears were among the beasts hunting the abundant antelope, elk, and buffalo. George Catlin described many encounters between predators and prey, but could only make quick sketches of these incidents as they unfolded, in hopes of capturing the excitement in more finished studio works. Catlin disapproved of white settlers’ encroaching on Indian lands, yet he continued to describe and paint scenes that were calculated to appeal to Euro-American sportsmen, enticing them westward for the thrilling hunts he described.

Keywords

Animal - bear

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added