Cross-Cultural Encounters


On View: “George Catlin on Indigenous Land”
The Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)
through Summer 2022

Painting of North American Indians
GEORGE CATLIN (1796–1872), “North American Indians” (Plate 1 in the North American Indian Portfolio), 1844, hand-colored lithograph on paper, 17 1/2 x 13 in., Heard Museum, gift of Laura and Arch Brown

The Heard Museum’s current exhibition, “George Catlin on Indigenous Land,” features selections from an 1844 portfolio of 25 hand-colored lithographic plates, donated recently by the collectors Laura and Arch Brown.

A self-trained artist who had practiced law for two years, George Catlin made five trips through the West between 1830 and 1836, producing the single largest pre-photographic record of its indigenous peoples. Ultimately, he painted more than 300 portraits of people from nearly 40 tribes, as well as 175 landscapes and many scenes depicting customs and daily life.

Catlin was respectful of the people who posed for him, though he never shared the profits he made while exhibiting and publishing his “Indian Gallery” throughout the U.S. and Europe. In fact, he repeatedly faced financial hardships, including a jail term for indebtedness in London, where these particular lithographs were printed.


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