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Overview

During the mid-19th century, George Catlin created two large collections of paintings featuring Indian portraits, genre scenes, and western landscapes. The first collection, which he called his "Indian Gallery," included more than 500 works completed during the 1830s. Most of the surviving paintings from this group are now at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. During the 1850s and 1860s, Catlin created a second collection, numbering more than 600 works, which he called his "Cartoon Collection." The surviving works from this collection were acquired by the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1912. Paul Mellon purchased more than 300 paintings from the Cartoon Collection when they were deaccessioned. In 1965, he gave 351 works from this collection to the National Gallery of Art.

When Catlin exhibited the Cartoon Collection in New York in 1871, he published a catalog listing all the works. The catalog entries often included additional information about the subject of each painting. Catlin's catalog entry for this painting follows.

 

Cart. No. 488.    

OSTRICH CHASE.—Buenos Ayres. 1856. The author, armed with a carabine revolver of Colt, is followed by Portuguese and Auca Indians, who chase with the bolas. (See “Last Rambles”—a juvenile book.—Appleton.)

Inscription

lower left: G. Catlin

Provenance

George Catlin [1796-1872]; by descent to his daughters, Clara Gregory Catlin, Louise Catlin Kinney, and Elizabeth Wing Catlin; purchased 1912 from Elizabeth Wing Catlin by the American Museum of Natural History; sold 1959 through (Kennedy Galleries, New York) to Mr. Paul Mellon, Upperville, VA; gift 1965 to the NGA.

Exhibition History
1970
Exhibition of George Catlin Paintings, Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania, 1970.
1980
American Indian Life: Paintings by George Catlin, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980.
1989
Sudamerica: Pinturas de George Catlin, Museo Franz Meyer, Mexico City; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago, Chile, 1989-1990, no. 22, color repro. (organized by United States Information Agency).
1992
South American Indian Paintings by George Catlin (NGA National Lending Service exhibition), The Museums at Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York, 1992.
1994
Life in a Boundless Land: The Gaucho Scenes of Juan Manuel Blanes, Americas Society, New York; Center for the Fine Arts, Miami; Tucson Museum of Art, 1994-1995, no. 106 (catalogue: The Art of Juan Manuel Blanes, by Octavio Assunçao and others).
Bibliography
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 33.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 93, repro.
1981
Williams, William James. A Heritage of American Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1981: 80, repro. 83.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 120, repro.