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Item #40098 Wi-Jun-Jon. An Assinneboin Chief. George CATLIN.

CATLIN, George (1796-1872)

Wi-Jun-Jon. An Assinneboin Chief

[Pl. 25] London: Chatto & Windus, [circa 1875]. Hand-coloured lithographic plate mounted on card within ink-ruled frame. Image size: 17 5/16 x 12 inches. Card size: 21 13/16 x 17 3/4 inches Hand-coloured lithograph mounted on card within ink-ruled frame. Image size: 17 5/16 x 12 inches. Card size: 21 13/16 x 17 3/4 inches.

Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio, one of the most important accounts of native-American life.

Wi-jun-jon was an Assiniboin warrior and Chief described by Catlin as "young, proud, handsome, valiant, and graceful." As a highly distinguished member of the Assiniboin tribe, he was chosen as delegate to a Washington meeting in 1832. Travelling down the Missouri by boat, Wi-Jun-Jon first met Catlin in St. Louis, where he reluctantly yielded to the artist's request to paint him. Wi-Jun-Jon modelled for Catlin in a "classic and exceedingly beautiful" clothing. Catlin writes, "His leggings and shirt were of the mountain goatskin, richly garnished with quills of porcupine, and fringed with locks of scalps taken from the heads of his enenmies...his robe was of the skin of a young buffalo bull, richly garnished and emblazoned with the battle of his life." When Catlin next saw Wi-jun-jon, it was upon the Chief's return trip from Washington, where he had exchanged his clothing for a military suit of blue broad cloth with epaulettes. So impressed by the transformation, Catlin painted this double portrait showing the Assiniboin Chief going to Washington and returning to his home. Catlin summarized the Indigenous peoples he encountered as "an honest, hospitable, faithful, brave, warlike, cruel, revengeful, relentless, - yet honourable, contemplative and religious beings." In a famous passage from the preface of his North American Indian Portfolio, Catlin describes how the sight of several tribal chiefs in Philadelphia led to his resolution to record their way of life. "The history and customs of such a people, preserved by pictorial illustrations, are themes worthy of the lifetime of one man, and nothing short of the loss of my life shall prevent me from visiting their country and becoming their historian." From 1832 to 1837, Catlin spent the summer months sketching the tribes and then finished his pictures in oils during the winter. The record he left is unique, both in its breadth and in the sympathetic understanding that his images constantly demonstrate. A selection of the greatest of images from this record were published in the North American Indian Portfolio in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible. The present image is one of the results of this publishing venture and is both a work of art of the highest quality and a fitting memorial to a vanished way of life.

Cf. Abbey Travel 653; cf. Field Indian Bibliography 258; cf. Howes C-243; cf. McCracken 10; cf. Sabin 11532; cf. Wagner-Camp 105a:1.

Item #40098

Price: $5,500.00

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