Stu-mick-o-súcks, Buffalo Bull's Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe, 1832
29 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
This magnificent portrait was painted at Fort Union "from the free and vivid realities of life" rather than "the haggard deformities and distortions of disease and death" Catlin noted among frontier Indians. Buffalo Bull's Back Fat (named after the most delectable cut of bison) was a chief of the Blackfoot, a tribe of the northernmost Plains whose territory straddled the present-day border between the United States and Canada. Catlin considered the people of the northern Plains the least corrupted by white contact, and helped establish their image as nature's sovereign nobility in Europe as well as America. This commanding portrait, for example, was exhibited to favorable notice in the Paris Salon of 1846.