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George Catlin
Midday Sun, a Pretty Girl
1832
oil
29 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.



Catlin describes Midday Sun, a young Hidatsa woman, as “a descendant from the old chief; and though not the most beautiful, is yet a fair sample of them, and dressed in a beautiful costume of the mountain-sheep skin, handsomely garnished with porcupine quills and beads. This girl was almost compelled to stand for her picture by her relatives who urged her on, whilst she modestly declined, offering as her excuse that ‘she was not pretty enough, and that her picture would be laughed at.’ This was either ignorance or excessive art on her part; for she was more than comely.” The Hidatsa tribe resides on Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota.