No. 20 - Antelope Shooting

George Catlin (1794-1872)

Published by London, 1844
Condition: Very Good No Binding
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George Catlin (1794-1872) Illustrated plate from North American Indian Portfolio London: 1844-48 Hand-colored lithograph 16.5” x 22.5” paper size 22.5” x 27.5” framed In 1827, George Catlin, an illustrator from Philadelphia, became the first artist to attempt the perilous journey up the Missouri River, and the first to create visual records of his experiences traveling among the Plains Indians of North America. Catlin embarked upon his journey in the Spring of 1832, traveling from St. Louis up the Missouri on the steamboat Yellowstone to Fort Union, at the intersection of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. It was a path that Karl Bodmer was also to follow just a year later, leading along a series of trading posts that served as a conduit for the furs and pelts brought down from the Rocky Mountains and channeled east. Catlin’s motivation was entirely unselfish and idealistic, and he labored unceasingly to persuade his contemporaries that Native American culture should be honored and preserved. The artist himself best expressed his goal in the preface to the first edition of his North American Indian Portfolio: “The history and customs of such a people, preserved by pictorial illustrations, are themes worthy the lifetime of one man, and nothing short of the loss of my life shall prevent me from visiting their country and becoming their historian.” Catlin’s project filled a great need. After Lewis & Clark’s celebrated expedition up the Missouri River into the Pacific Northwest, Europeans read avidly of the sights and experiences of the voyage. They traced the route followed by the explorers, using the map that accompanied the wildly popular printed volumes on the journey. But a crucial aspect was missing from the accounts of the expedition of Lewis and Clark. Without pictorial documentation, Europeans (and Americans) were unable to visualize the all-but-unbelievable journey. This lack meant that the people, landscape, and customs of the vast American frontier remained abstract ideas -- and much less vividly imaginable -- to anyone who had not personally experienced the voyage. When Catlin first issued his volume in 1844, his animated, colorful, sympathetic views of Native Americans finally filled the void of imagery. Suddenly, Europeans and Americans were able to visualize the people and customs of whom they had read so extensively, and to gain a level of respect for the Native Americans, so often feared, misunderstood or misrepresented. Catlin’s work endeavors to tell the story of the Plains Indians in a logical, graphic way that is not evident in the works of artists and publishers who followed in his footsteps, most notably Bodmer and McKenney & Hall. Catlin introduces the viewer to three important tribes from different geographical areas (Pawnee, Osage, and Iroquois) in the first image; the second illustration presents the buffalo, the animal on which the Plains Indians depended for survival. Next, Catlin depicts the wild horses on the Plains, the manner in which the Indians broke them, and finally how the Indians used the horses to pursue the buffalo. The two main methods of killing the buffalo, with a lance and with a bow, are demonstrated in the subsequent print. The danger of the buffalo hunt follows, including an illustration of the Mandan buffalo dance. The effort to tell a story about the culture of the Plains Indians continues throughout the North American Indian Portfolio, in which Catlin sought to present Indian culture and activities from the Indian standpoint. Bookseller Inventory # G00103c

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Bibliographic Details

Title: No. 20 - Antelope Shooting

Publisher: London

Publication Date: 1844

Binding: No Binding

Book Condition:Very Good

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