menu American Art Home Catlin Home Highlights from the Catlin Exhibition Campfire Stories with George Catlin: An Encounter of Two Cultures Catlin Shop Press Information
empty space
empty space empty space empty space empty space
Viewer Prefs small type large type empty space



22 of 34
Previous | Next

Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going to and Returning from Washington, 1837–39
Assiniboine/Nakoda
oil
29 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Eighteen months later, the artist met Pigeon's Egg Head on his return home to the northern Plains. In this before-and-after portrait, Catlin shows the Assiniboine arriving in Washington in a splendid buckskin suit, as noble and classic in its own way as the architecture of the Capitol in the background. On his return, dressed in a "general's" uniform accessorized with umbrella, fan, and bottles of whiskey, all gifts of the government, he made a far less harmonious sight. The final indignity was "a pair of water-proof boots, with high heels, which made him 'step like a yoked hog.'" His tribesmen rejected his descriptions of the white man's cities, and his persistence in telling "evil lies" eventually led to his murder. Catlin's message—civilization destroys Indian culture—doesn't get much clearer than this.


American Art Home | Catlin Home
Virtual Exhibition | Catlin Classroom
Shop | Press