Theodore Burr Catlin, in Indian Costume, 1838
50 1/8 x 40 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
Catlin's Indian Gallery was not your typical Victorian art show. The tireless artist cooked up promotions, delivered lectures, conducted tours, hosted receptions for the press, and attempted to capitalize on highly placed contacts. Beginning in 1840, Catlin also staged the first Wild West shows. His early casts featured Englishmen and boys dressed in costumes from the artist's own collection, who sang, danced, and whooped their way through mock battles. Catlin's nephew Burr was always up for the artist's publicity stunts.