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George Catlin
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Artist
    (July 26, 1796-December 23, 1872)
    Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
    Specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West
    Traveled to the American West five times during the 1830s, visiting and painting over sixty tribes in all (1830-1838)
    Among the tribes painted were the Pawnee, Omaha, Ponca, Mandan, Hidatsa, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine, and Blackfeet
    Wrote 'Life Among the Indians' (1861) and 'Illustrations of the manners, customs & condition of the North American Indians,' vol. 1-2 (1876)
    He is believed to have either fathered children out of wedlock by an Indian woman, or to have actually been a bigamist, married to both his wife and the woman at the same time, during his travels West.
    He authored a 102-page 'book of manners,' crudely titled 'Shut Your Mouth' (self explanatory).
    He has been accused of taking a patronizing and condescending attitude toward the American Indians he visited.
    He was unable to persuade the federal government to buy his 400-painting collection for preservation (he was heavily in debt at the time).
    When he finally sold the original collection, he spent the last twenty years of his life recreating it from old sketches, which is now known as 'the Cartoon Collection' due to its poor quality.
    He has been accused of exaggerating his experiences during his travels (ex. claiming to have discovered the Minnesota pipestone quarries).
    His travels out West were less motivated by his sympathy toward the American Indian than out of a desire to get rich from painting them, having had little success as a painter in the East.
    He had a long scar down his left cheek since the age of ten, ironically the result of a blow from an Indian tomahawk thrown at him by a childhood friend while 'playing Indians.'
    He had a photographic memory.
    His mother and grandmother were kidnapped by Indians and held hostage during the Revolutionary War.
    Before his travels West, he was a portrait artist who had painted such noted individuals as James Madison, Dolley Madison, James Monroe, and John Marshall.
    He traveled on several of his journeys with General William Clark (and got his start painting American Indian visitors to Clark's office).
    He became the first artist to visually record Plains Indians in their native territory.
    He was alienated in Eastern social circles for his outspoken critic of the US government's Indian removal policies.
    His paintings were not limited to portraiture but also profiled their lifestyle, religious practices, and cultural artifacts.
    He was elected an Academician of the National Academy of Fine Arts (1826).
    The nearly complete surviving set of his first Indian Gallery, is now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection.
    His collection of American Indian artifacts are in now at the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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