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George Catlin
Male Caribou, a Brave
1836
oil
29 x 24 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.



This portrait was painted from life at Sault Ste. Marie, located between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, during Catlin's only visit there in 1836. Despite the obvious interest Catlin took in rendering the decorated shirt, war club, and feathered turban-style headdress, this warrior's direct gaze is what holds our attention. Catlin's portraits show the Plains Indians as distinct individuals with profound humanity.