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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: George Catlin: Comanche Feats of Horsemanship
Comanche Feats of Horsemanship


Comanche Feats of Horsemanship
1834-35
George Catlin
oil on canvas
24 x 29 in. (60.9 x 73.7 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
1985.66.487
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“Amongst their feats of riding, there is one that has astonished me more than anything of the kind I have ever seen, or expect to see, in my life:---a stratagem of war, learned and practiced by every young man in the tribe; by which he is able to drop his body upon the side of his horse at the instant he is passing, effectually screened from his enemies’ weapons as he lays in a horizontal position behind the body of his horse, with his heel hanging over the horses' back; by which he has the power of throwing himself up again, and changing to the other side of the horse if necessary. In this wonderful condition, he will hang whilst his horse is at fullest speed, carrying with him his bow and his shield, and also his long lance of fourteen feet in length, all or either of which he will wield upon his enemy as he passes; rising and throwing his arrows over the horse's back, or with equal ease and equal success under the horse's neck.” George Catlin sketched this scene in 1834, when he accompanied the United States Dragoons to Indian Territory. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 42, 1841; reprint 1973)


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