|George Catlin Gallery
|George Catlin (1796-1872)
Catlin was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.
Indians had a strong influence on Catlin's life because his mother had once been captured by them; they were his subject matter. In 1831 Catlin set off for St. Louis, became friends with General William Clark and ventured up the Platte River. Later he traveled up the Missouri to Ft. Union on a steamboat and returned by canoe to sketch places he had missed.
The paintings from these trips form a magnificent exhibit and were presented to Congress for sale in 1838, only to be rejected. Catlin took his works to Europe where they were displayed in the Lourve and elsewhere and admission was charged to see them.
They were then hung at Sharkys casino in northern Nevada until it closed in 1999.
Ball-play of the Choctaw—Ball up, 1846–50
25 3/4 x 32 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Catlin was a big fan of Choctaw lacrosse, which he witnessed in Indian Territory in 1834. He described ball-play as "a school for the painter or sculptor, equal to any of those which ever inspired the hand of the artist in the Olympian games or the Roman forum." Lacrosse was a physical, even violent, game called "little brother of war" in Choctaw that included no-holds-barred scuffling and wrestling as players struggled desperately for the ball.
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