Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon’s Egg Head (The Light), a Distinguished Young Warrior

  • George Catlin, Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light), a Distinguished Young Warrior, 1831, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr., 1985.66.179

George Catlin first met Wi-jún-jon (also called the Light) in St. Louis in December 1831, when the Assiniboine warrior was en route to Washington to meet President Andrew Jackson and tour the city. Catlin recalled that the warrior appeared for his portrait sitting plumed and tinted … [and] dressed in his native costume, which was classic and exceedingly beautiful”—attributes nicely captured in this finished portrait. Wi-jún-jon returned home to the northern Plains eighteen months later a decidedly different man—dressed apparently in a general’s” uniform and sharing what to his fellow tribesmen were astonishing accounts of the white man’s cities. They eventually rejected his stories as ingenious fabrication of novelty and wonder,” and his persistence in telling such lies” eventually led to his murder. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 55, 1841; reprint 1973)

Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon’s Egg Head (The Light), a Distinguished Young Warrior
Not on view
2924 in. (73.760.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Portrait male – Pigeon's Egg Head
  • Ethnic – Indian – Assiniboin
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI