CATLIN, George (1796-1872)
Catlin the artist & sportsman releiving [sic.] one of his companions from an unpleasant predicament during his travels in Brazil.
London: Day & Son, [circa 1855-1860]. Hand-finished colour-printed lithograph, drawn on stone by J. M'Gahey of Chester after George Catlin, printed by Day & Son, within a lithographed thin single line border printed in ochre, with lithographed title printed in black beneath. Sheet size: 18 x 25 1/8 inches.
A very rare print from the rarest of Catlin's pictorial publications.
When the United States Senate rejected an 1852 bill proposing the purchase for the nation of George Catlin's "Indian Gallery," the artist was bankrupted and lost virtually all of the paintings and drawings that he had used in his exhibitions. In order to raise funds, Catlin proposed an expedition to market Samuel Colt's firearms. Colt was eager to publicize his new revolving pistols and rifles and to have them adopted by the United States Army, and he commissioned Catlin to "paint a series of twelve pictures showing Colts being employed in the field. The terms of their agreement are unclear, but Catlin completed the order by 1857, and the Colt Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company subsequently used the paintings in its advertising" (Dippie). "Six of the paintings were turned into lithographs, but few sets seem to have been made" (Miles & Reese).
The set, all of which are drawn in Catlin's distinctive style, show the artist using Colt firearms in the wilds of both North and South America.The plates were printed in London by Day & Son, the best known British lithographic printers of the period; Catlin's images were drawn on stone by J. M'Gahey of Chester, England. These prints are not in any of the standard bibliographies and the only other recorded sets are in the Colt Firearms Collection (Connecticut State Library in Hartford), the Amon Carter Museum, Yale University (the Paul Mellon set) and the Wadsworth Athenaeum.
Text beneath this image reads: "This man strayed from the encampment and alone attacked a troup of 200 or more Piccaries [sic.], when having expended his powder he was compelled to retreat into a fallen tree crying "murder" Catlin ran to his rescue with his Colt's Revolver / when after knocking over three of leaders of the beseiging party suddenly, the rest took to their heels leaving only the dead upon the field."
George A. Miles and William S. Reese, America Pictured to the Life 69; cf. Dippie, Catlin and his Contemporaries: The Politics of Patronage , 1990.