In 1710 four American Indian representatives visited the court of Queen Anne to forge a military and political alliance. Three of the delegates from the Iroquois people were Mohawk and one Mahican. Their arrival created a sensation. The Four Indian Kings, as they became known, were the talk of London. They sat for their portraits, were given two audiences with the queen, were received by the gentry and visited public entertainments.
The Iroquois, who called themselves Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouse, were a confederation of American Indian peoples whose support was of vital importance to Britain in its territorial struggle with France in North America. The delegation was therefore taken very seriously at court. Outside diplomatic circles, however, the delegates were regarded as exotic specimens from an alien culture despite their familiarity with British customs.
In terms of its cultural impact, the responses in Britain to the 1710 Mohawk and Mahican visit ranged from elite to popular culture: from the oil portraits made by John Verelst to the production of cheap printed materials that recorded the Four Kings' presence in the capital.
The true Effigies of the Four Indian Kings taken from the original paintings
after Simon Verelst, 20 April 1710
engraving, 342 x 26mm
© The British Museum