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Woman and Child, Showing How the Heads of Children are Flattened

1837-1839? 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. 1985.66.147 Not currently on view


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Catlin described this work as a portrait “of a Chinook woman, with her child in her arms, her own head flattened, and the infant undergoing the process . . . which is done by placing its back on a board . . . to which it is lashed with thongs, to a position from which it cannot escape, and the back of the head supported by a sort of pillow, made of moss or rabbit skins, with an inclined piece . . . resting on the forehead of the child.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 48, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Ethnic - Indian - Chinook

Figure group - female and child

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added