Print from Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America. London: G. Catlin, 1844. Images ca. 12 x 17 1/2, plus full margins. Lithographs drawn by McGahey and printed by Day & Hague. Original hand color. Overall, good condition except as noted. The prints were issued in three formats: 1. regular with hand color and included text with plate number, title and credits to printers, 2. Deluxe in which margins were trimmed and the images were mounted on heavier boards, often also more heavily colored, and 3. printed image with one tint stone used, all text included, but no hand color.
The prints of George Catlin mark a poignant and heroic moment in the history of American art and culture. Setting out to chronicle and immortalize Indian culture, George Catlin lived a life of pioneer adventure and spirit colored by the ideal of the 'noble savage' in his pristine environment. In 1830 he went out to St. Louis and from there traveled extensively for several years to Indian villages along the Platte and Missouri rivers and then later to tribes throughout the far west. The result was some 500 paintings and one of the most significant chronicles of Indian life and culture ever produced. Catlin put his paintings on exhibit in the United States and Europe, hoping to make his fortune, but though they were popular, these exhibitions were a financial failure. In an attempt to expand his market, Catlin had a number of his paintings made into prints, issuing them in 1844 as Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. Very few first hand images of Native Americans from the beginning of the nineteenth century have survived, and these are among the most dramatic and detailed. Not only do they provide us with much ethnological information, but with their rich color, detail and artistic worth, they are a noble legacy from Catlin's memorable career.
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