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. 442.
THE EXPEDITION arriving at the mouth of the Mississippi; Lasalle erects a cross, and takes possession of the country “in the name of Louis le Grand, King of France and Navarre,” April 9th, 1682.
lower right: G. Catlin P.
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.
- 26 paintings by George Catlin from the Paul Mellon Collection, Old Courthouse, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior), St. Louis, Missouri, 1965-1968, no. 21, repro.
- Voyages of Discovery by La Salle, St. Paul Art Center, Minnesota, 1968.
- Westward the Artist [Third Anniversary Exhibition], Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois, 1968, no. 43.
- [The La Salle Series], Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, 1970.
- An Exhibition of Paintings and Lithographs by George Catlin, Artist Historian, Tennessee Fine Arts Center, Nashville, 1971, no. 56, repro.
- Voyages of Discovery by La Salle, Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, Alexandria, 1972.
- [Catlin exhibition], Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, 1973.
- Voyages of Discovery by La Salle, Phoenix Art Museum, 1973-1974.
- Seascape and the American Imagination, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1975, no. 17, fig. 53.
- Voyages of Discovery by La Salle, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, 1977.
- Inaugural Exhibition, The Community Art Gallery, Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville, Florida, 1978.
- American Indian Life: Paintings by George Catlin, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980.
- George Catlin: The Indian Gallery & The Voyages of La Salle, The Mansfield Art Center, Ohio, 1980, no. 72, repro.
- Two Hundred Years of American Paintings, 1700-1900, Inaugural Exhibition, The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia, 1981, no. 15 (and listed separately pp. 69-72).
- George Catlin: An American View, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 1988.
- Voyages of Discovery: History Paintings by George Catlin (NGA National Lending Service exhibition), Live Oak Gardens Foundation, Inc. [now Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island], New Iberia, Louisiana, 1992.
- Voyages of Discovery: History Paintings by George Catlin (NGA National Lending Service exhibition), The Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida, 1993.
- American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 38, repro. 39.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 79, repro.
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 135, repro.