Elk Grazing on an Autumn Prairie

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The numbers and variety of game on the Plains provided a varied diet for Catlin and the soldiers and traders who lived along the frontier. In 1835, Catlin returned from Fort Snelling to Prairie du Chien, this time by canoe, living principally on game during the trip. “My voyage from the mouth of the Teton River to this place has been the most rugged, yet the most delightful, of my whole Tour. Our canoe was generally landed at night on the point of some projecting barren sand-bar, where we straightened our limbs on our buffalo robes, secure from the annoyance of mosquitos, and out of the walks of Indians and grizzly bears. In addition to the opportunity which this descending Tour has afforded me, of visiting all the tribes of Indians on the river, and leisurely filling my portfolio with the beautiful scenery which its shores present---the sportsman's fever was roused and satisfied; the swan, ducks, geese, and pelicans---the deer, antelope, elk, and buffaloes, were ‘stretched’ by our rifles.” (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 2, no. 32, 1841; reprint 1973)
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Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Painting and Sculpture
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Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.
George Catlin, born Wilkes-Barre, PA 1796-died Jersey City, NJ 1872
Figure group\male
oil on canvas
20 1/8 x 27 3/8 in. (51.0 x 69.4 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum