George Catlin: American Indian Portraits

George Catlin: American Indian Portraits publication


Pub. date: 7 March 2013
Price: £25
ISBN: 978 1 85514 457 6
Format: 260 x 230mm
Extent: 192 pages
Illustrations: 100 colour
Binding: Quarter-bound hardback
Category: Art History/History/Reference

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Out of Print

Stephanie Pratt and Joan Carpenter Troccoli

George Catlin (1796–1872) was a Pennsylvania-born artist, writer and showman whose portraits of Native Americans are among the most important representations of indigenous peoples ever made. His work remains the single greatest influence on the artistic and popular conception of North American Indians. This book features over fifty of Catlin’s finest portraits and reappraises his great project, the Indian Gallery, and the enormous impact it had when shown at venues around Great Britain and Europe.


This book, and the exhibition it accompanies, showcases works from George Catlin’s ‘Indian Gallery’ – a series of portraits not seen in the UK since the 1840s – and seeks to reposition this remarkable artist for a contemporary audience. The authors explore the origins of Catlin’s achievement: his ambition to record what he believed to be dying cultures, and his collecting activities, educational intentions and methods of exhibition and display, which demonstrate the growth of a new sensibility towards native peoples.

While Catlin’s work is well known in the United States, especially in Washington DC, where most of it is still housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, George Catlin: American Indian Portraits will help to bring these spectacular pictures to new audiences in Britain and around the world. Stephanie Pratt provides an overview of the important historical events affecting native Americans in the 1820s and 1830s, while Joan Carpenter Troccoli examines the life and art of Catlin from the 1820s, when he decided to devote his career to painting American Indians, through the period of his European tours of the 1840s and 1850s.

In addition to tracing the stylistic development of this largely self-taught painter, the book includes an examination of the creation and reception of the Indian Gallery. There are reproductions of pages from Catlin’s sketchbooks and ephemera that demonstrate how the Indian Gallery was toured overseas, as well as some of the items Catlin collected in the field.


Stephanie Pratt is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Plymouth. She is a member of the Dakota Nation and has published extensively on the representation of Native American peoples from the Elizabethan era to the late nineteenth century.

Joan Carpenter Troccoli is Founding Director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum, from which she retired in 2012. She gained her PhD in European and American art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and served as Curator and Director at Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, which holds many of Catlin’s works and correspondence. She is co-author of George Catlin and His Indian Gallery (2002).