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Wún-nes-tou, White Buffalo, an Aged Medicine Man

1832 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 60.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.158 Not currently on view


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“I have also transferred to my canvas the ‘looks and very resemblance’ of an aged chief, who combines with his high office, the envied title of mystery or medicine-man, i.e. doctor-magician-prophet-soothsayer-jongleur- and high priest, all combined in one person, who necessarily is looked upon as ‘Sir Oracle’ of the nation . . . on his left arm he presents his mystery-drum or tambour, in which are concealed the hidden and sacred mysteries of his healing art.” George Catlin painted this portrait at Fort Union in the upper Midwest in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 5, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Dress - ethnic - Indian dress

Ethnic - Indian - Blackfoot

Portrait male - White Buffalo

Portrait male - White Buffalo - full length

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added