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George Catlin

Born: Wilkes-Barre, PA, 26 July 1796
Died: Jersey City, NJ, 23 December 1872
Nationality: American

early career as a lawyer




1830 – joins General William Clark’s mission up the Mississippi River to record the appearance and culture of Native Americans; travels down the Missouri, Arkansas and Red Rivers throughout the 1830s

1837 – assembles portraits of Native Americans, along with costumes and artifacts to form his “Indian Gallery”; Indian Gallery tours US until 1840

1840 – Catlin unsuccessfully petitions the US Congress to buy Gallery; European tour of Indian Gallery begins in London

1841 – publishes Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians

1854 – travels to South America to create ethnographic portraits

1870 –group of paintings known as the “Cartoon Collection” exhibited in Brussels

1871 – “Cartoon Collection” exhibited in New York; Caitlin invitation to install Collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, although the US government did not acquire the “Cartoon Collection” until 1965


American frontier (1830s); London and Paris (1840); South America (1854)

Important Artworks: 

The Last Race, Part of Okipa Ceremony (Mandan), 1832 (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC)