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Wounded Buffalo, Strewing His Blood over the Prairies

1832-1833 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 24 x 29 in. (60.9 x 73.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.406 Not currently on view


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“I found that my shot had entered him a little too far forward, breaking one of his shoulders, and lodging in his breast, and from his very great weight it was impossible for him to make much advance upon me. As I rode up within a few paces of him, he would bristle up with fury enough in his looks alone, almost to annihilate me; and making one lunge at me, would fall upon his neck and nose, so that I found the sagacity of my horse alone enough to keep me out of reach of danger: and I drew from my pocket my sketch-book, laid my gun across my lap, and commenced taking his likeness. He stood stiffened up, and swelling with awful vengeance, which was sublime for a picture, but which he could not vent upon me. I rode around him and sketched him in numerous attitudes, sometimes he would lie down, and I would then sketch him; then throw my cap at him, and rousing him on his legs, rally a new expression, and sketch him again . . . No man on earth can imagine what is the look and expression of such a subject before him as this was. I defy the world to produce another animal than can look so frightful as a huge buffalo bull, when wounded as he was, turned around for battle, and swelling with rage;---his eyes bloodshot, and his long shaggy mane hanging to the ground,---his mouth open, and his horrid rage hissing in streams of smoke and blood from his mouth and through his nostrils, as he is bending forward to spring upon his assailant.” George Catlin made this sketch on the Upper Missouri in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 4, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Animal - buffalo

Landscape - plain

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added