Native Village 
Youth and Education News

April 1, 2013

The Indians are coming... back to London
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The works, which are to be seen at the National Portrait Gallery, were painted by American artist George Catlin who made trips into the western boundaries of America to record the indigenous peoples as he feared their way of life was passing

England: An important series of paintings of Native Americans is on display in London tomorrow. They were also displayed 170 years ago, and were a star attraction. 

Painted by American artist George Catlin, the artworks are on display at the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery recreated the spectacular way the works were displayed, with paintings three high and seven across.

Catlin traveled west to paint indigenous peoples because he feared their way of life was disappearing.  He toured the work in America, then took them to Europe after the U.S. government declined to buy the collection. The paintings were displayed in Piccadilly, England in the 1840s. Some of the Native people he painted made live appearances.

“It must have been an overwhelming experience. I think people were intrigued by it,” said museum curator, Peter Funnell.

National Portrait Gallery director Sandy Nairne calls them “wonderful” images

“George Catlin made powerful and sympathetic portraits of the American Indians at a time of traumatic historical change,” he said.

London's National Portrait Gallery is working with the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, which owns the major work.

The free exhibition of Catlin portraits runs through June 23.


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