Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix, will present George Catlin on Indigenous Land exhibit May 7 through the fall of 2022.
The exhibition George Catlin on Indigenous Land features selections from an original 1844 portfolio of 25 hand-colored lithographic plates, according to a press release.
Like many Western artists, George Catlin (1796-1872) traveled the West to make a record of the region’s Indigenous peoples with a goal to preserve for future generations a pictorial history of Indigenous cultures, which he accomplished by painting portraits of peoples from nearly 40 tribes.
The recent donation from Laura and Arch Brown consists of the third print-run edition of Mr. Catlin’s lithographs, which marked the first time he used a new printer in London, according to the release, noting more than 150 years old, the lithographs are in perfect condition.
A self-trained artist who practiced law for two years, he traveled to Missouri and then into the Great Plains, the release said, detailing five trips he made from 1830 to 1836, producing the largest pre-photographic record of Indigenous people.
Painting more than 300 portraits and 175 landscapes, the release said he also painted scenes depicting ceremonies, customs and village life in addition to portraits.
He was known to be respectful of the Indigenous people who posed for his portraits and personally benefitted from the enterprise. He traveled to cities throughout the U.S. and Europe, showcasing his “Indian Gallery.”
Although his paintings, lectures and books are said to have brought him recognition, he faced financial hardships throughout his career, including imprisonment in London for indebtedness in 1852.
However, after his unsuccessful attempt to sell his paintings to the U.S. government, railroad businessman Joseph Harrison Jr. acquired the paintings when he paid Mr. Catlin’s debts.
The paintings were subsequently donated to the Smithsonian Institution, the release added.