George - Famous authority on the life and customs of the American
Indian. Catlin was the first great painter of the Indian, and he
not only made the Red Man renowned on canvas but in literature as well.
Catlin was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania,
in 1796, and was educated as a lawyer. He practiced two years in
Philadelphia, but preferring art he gave up practice and set up a portrait
studio in New York. Believing like many that the American Indian
was disappearing, he decided to spend his life painting them and writing
He lived among Indians, learning their
languages, habits, customs, and making many notes and studies for paintings.
In 1841 he published the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North
American Indians in two volumes, illustrated with 300 engravings.
Three years later he brought out The North American Portfolio with
25 plates of Indian hunting scenes and amusements in the Rockies and on
His great collection of paintings is now
in the Catlin Gallery of the National Museum in Washington D. C.
Catlin first brought to attention the quarry
in southwest Minnesota where the Indians obtained the red pipestone used
in making their sacred calumets. Indians believed this stone represented
living flesh and blood. It now bears the name catlinite in honor
Catlin died in Jersey City, New Jersey,
December 22, 1872.
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