Skip to main content
Item #41609 Buffalo Hunt, White Wolves Attacking a Buffalo Bull. George CATLIN.

CATLIN, George (1796-1872)

Buffalo Hunt, White Wolves Attacking a Buffalo Bull

[Pl. 10] London: Chatto & Windus, [circa 1875]. Hand-coloured lithograph, mounted on card within ink-ruled frame. Image size: 11 3/4 x 17 3/4 inches. Card size: 17 1/2 x 21 3/4 inches.

A fine image of a dramatic scene from Catlin's 'North American Indian Portfolio,' one of the most important accounts of Indigenous American life.

This arresting image is compellingly described Catlin's account of his encounter with the bull. While riding with his hunting companions, the artist spotted the group of White Wolves, "the most numerous and formidable" of all the wolf species in the American prairies, surrounding an enormous bull that had been badly attacked. From a distance, Catlin sketched the group, which he had "several times come across such gangs of these animals, surrounding...a wounded bull, where it would seem from appearances that they had been for several days in attendance...In this group some were reclining, to gain breath, whilst others were sneaking anxiety for a renewal of the attack; and others, less lucky, had been the feet or the horns of the bull." As the gang of wolves temporarily dispersed, Catlin rode nearer to the bull and said, "'Now is your chance, old fellow, and you had better be off.'" Catlin further recounts, "he seemed to recognize a friend in me;...he straightened up, and trembling with excitement, dashed off at full speed in a straight line over the prairie." 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.

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

Item #41609

Price: $1,500.00

See all items in Native Americans
See all items by George CATLIN