Old Arrow Maker

In The Song of Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's popular epic poem published in 1855, Hiawatha appears at the wigwam of Minnehaha and offers a deer as a token in marriage. Lewis appreciated Longfellow's sympathetic treatment of American Indians during a period when such sentiments were unusual. His poem had particular relevance for the artist because Hiawatha was a member of the Ojibwa (Chippewa) tribe, as was Lewis's mother. Her admiration for the poet resulted in a portrait bust of him, for which he sat just once while in Rome during the winter of 1868 and 1869.

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Old Arrow Maker
modeled 1866, carved 1872
marble
21 1/2 x 13 5/8 x 13 5/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Joseph S. Sinclair