Elk and Buffalo Making Acquaintance, Texas

  • George Catlin, Elk and Buffalo Making Acquaintance, Texas, 1846-1848, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.581

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“One of the most remarkable characteristics of the buffalo, is the peculiar formation and expression of the eye, the ball of which is very large and white, and the iris jet black. The lids of the eye seem always to be strained quite open, and the ball rolling forward and down; so that a considerable part of the iris is hidden behind the lower lid, while the pure white of the eyeball glares out over it in an arch, in the shape of a moon at the end of its first quarter . . . I saw in the grass, on the bank above me, what I supposed to be the back of a fine elk, busy at his grazing. I let our craft float silently by for a little distance, when I communicated the intelligence to my men, and slily ran in, to the shore. I pricked the priming of my firelock, and taking a bullet or two in my mouth, stepped ashore, and trailing my rifle in my hand, went back under the bank, carefully crawling up in a little ravine, quite sure of my game; when, to my utter surprise and violent alarm, I found the elk to be no more nor less than an Indian pony, getting his breakfast! and a little beyond him, a number of others grazing.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, nos. 10, 31, 1841; reprint 1973)

Elk and Buffalo Making Acquaintance, Texas
On View
Not on view.
19 5/8 x 27 1/2 in. (49.7 x 70.0 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Animal – deer
  • Animal – buffalo
  • Figure group – male
  • Landscape – Texas
  • Western
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI