63
63
Catlin, George 
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT BY CATLIN, REFLECTING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS INDIAN GALLERY.
Estimate
25,00035,000
JUMP TO LOT
63
Catlin, George 
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT BY CATLIN, REFLECTING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS INDIAN GALLERY.
Estimate
25,00035,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana, Including Cartography

|
New York

Catlin, George 
A HIGHLY IMPORTANT AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT BY CATLIN, REFLECTING ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS INDIAN GALLERY.
Small folio sheet folded (12 5/8 x 8 in.; 320 x 204 mm), 3 pp. written recto and verso, docketed on verso of the final leaf, dated 25 June 1839, and written from New York. PROVENANCE: Sotheby's New York, 1 November 1993, lot 27

Split to fold without loss of text, expert repair to upper right margin.


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Provenance

Sotheby's New York, 1 November 1993, lot 27

Literature

Dippie, Catlin and his Contemporaries: The Politics of Patronage

Catalogue Note

Written by Catlin in the third person, this manuscript was likely intended either for publication in a New York newspaper, or to be printed as a handbill to be circulated to promote the final American exhibition of his Indian paintings. Catlin first began exhibiting his paintings at New York's Stuyvesant Institute in 1837, before taking the collection on an American tour. In 1839, after a final exhibition again at the Stuyvesant Institute, Catlin left America to exhibit the collection in London.

He writes, in part:
"Stimulated by an ardent and enthusiastic desire to perpetuate something more than the mere History & poetry of Indian life, Mr. Catlin set out for the wilderness, some 8 or 9 years since, with his brushes & his canvas, leaving friends & relations & the pleasures of civilized life, whilst he threw himself amidst the dangers & difficulties of the rude & untrodden wilds of the western regions, with the hope and determination of reaching every tribe of Indians in N. Am. and returning with portraits of the chiefs & warriors of each tribe, with views of their villages, paintings of their religious rites, their games & amusements and specimens of their own manufactures, with all of which, (elucidated & explained by his notes on their manners & customs) to form a Gallery Unique, as a living & lasting monument to a noble, yet unenlightened race who are rapidly passing away and of whom in a few years, little else save the results of such daring efforts, will be left expressive of the true character & appearance of the North Am. Indian, as he may yet be seen, in his native dignity & wildness in the remotest regions of the Far West."

At the time of writing this manuscript, Catlin was at work on the text for his Letters and Notes. Indeed, some of the language of this manuscript can be seen repeated in the opening of that work published two years later (see for example his reference to his "Gallery Unique"). Beyond his desire to share his art and appreciation of Native American culture with his fellow Americans, the primary reasons for his exhibitions, and the present manuscript, were to engender support for government patronage. Catlin unsuccessfully petitioned Congress several times, hoping they would purchase his entire Gallery. After touring London and Paris, by 1852 the expenses of his exhibitions had bankrupted him and Catlin was forced to relinquish his collection to creditors, who in turn sold the paintings to Philadelphia industrialist Joseph Harrison, Jr.

In 1878, the entire collection would be donated to the Smithsonian, to be preserved much in the spirit of Catlin's desires as revealed in the present manuscript.

Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana, Including Cartography

|
New York