Big Bend on the Upper Missouri, 1900 Miles above St. Louis

  • George Catlin, Big Bend on the Upper Missouri, 1900 Miles above St. Louis, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.390

Saturday, fifth day of our voyage from the mouth of Yellow Stone … Landed our canoe in the Grand Détour (or Big Bend) as it is called, at the base of a stately clay mound, and ascended, all hands, to the summit level, to take a glance at the picturesque and magnificent works of Nature that were about us. Spent the remainder of the day in painting a view of this grand scene; for which purpose Ba’tiste and Bogard carried my easel and canvas to the top of a huge mound, where they left me at my work … Scarcely anything in nature can be found, I am sure, more exceedingly picturesque than the view from this place; exhibiting the wonderful manner in which the gorges of the river have cut out its deep channel through these walls of clay on either side, of two or three hundred feet in elevation; and the imposing features of the high table-lands in distance, standing as a perpetual anomaly in the country, and producing the indisputable, though astounding evidence of the fact, that there has been at some ancient period, a super surface to this country, corresponding with the elevation of these tabular hills, whose surface, for half a mile or more, on their tops, is perfectly level.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 10, 1841; reprint 1973)

Big Bend on the Upper Missouri, 1900 Miles above St. Louis
Not on view
11 1814 38 in. (28.336.4 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Figure group – male
  • Landscape – United States
Object Number
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