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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 words, 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 deacessioned. 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. 9.     Sióux.

a. -- Ha-wón-je-ta (The One Horn); head chief of the Sioux tribe [of 35,000, in 1832], dressed in a costume of skins, ornamented with a profusion of porcupine quills embroidery, and fringes of scalp locks.

The Sioux tribe contained 40 bands, and each band had its chief, subordinate to the "One Horn."

b. -- Tchon-dée (Tobacco); second chief of the Sioux tribe, celebrated for his war exploits.

c. -- Toh-ky-e-to (The Stone with Horns); great counsellor to the chief, and medicine man, his body and limbs curiously tattooed.

d. -- Tchon-su-móns-ka (the Sandbar); wife of the chief, with her infant [pappoose], in its prettily ornamented crib, or cradle. 1832.

Inscription

lower left on card: A/88; upper center on board in pink paint: 9; lower edge on board beneath figures: a d b c

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
1870
Indiens des deux Ameriques, Salle du Jardin Botanique, Brussels, 1870, no. 9.
1871
Catlin's Indian Cartoons, Somerville Gallery, New York, 1871, no. 9.
1872
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1872.
1876
Possibly Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876.
1956
George Catlin, American Indians: Paintings from The Collection of the American Museum of Natural History, Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, 1956.
1964
Loan for display with permanent collection, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming, 1964-1974.
1976
Loan for display with permanent collection, Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming, 1976-1983.
Bibliography
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 31.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 104, repro.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 90, repro.