About this Artwork
The Iowa were invited to perform traditional dances for the French king, Louis-Philippe, who had traveled in New York among the Oneida and Seneca during his three years of exile in the United States. Catlin described the performance:
The Doctor led off first in the character (as he called it) of a soaring eagle, sounding his eagle whistle, which he carried in his left hand, with his fan of the eagle's tail, while he was brandishing his lance in the other. . . . The Little Wolf, and Wash-ka-mon-ya and others, then sprang upon their feet, and sounding their chattering whistles, and brandishing their polished weapons, gave an indescribable wildness and spirit to the scene. When the dance was finished, the Indians had the pleasure of receiving their Majesties . . . admiration, conveyed to them through the interpreter.
French court painter Girardet painted this scene on commission for the king. Catlin appears on the right, explaining the dances to Queen Maria Amalia, at her request.