Of Natural Liberty and Independence: George Catlin’s Portraits of Native Americans

Request Program

The nineteenth-century painter George Catlin (1796-1872) recorded the appearance and customs of Native Americans for his generation and for posterity. Beginning in 1830, Catlin made numerous trips to the American West to document the “natural liberty and independence” of a disappearing culture. He often presented Native Americans in formal poses prevalent in portraits of the period. They were presented as proof of the commonalties among all people. The nine illustrations in this exhibition are taken from two editions of James Cowles Prichard’s The Natural History of Man. The prints are hand-colored etchings printed on time-toned paper. This exhibition is supported by the Paul Mellon Endowment, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a variety of exhibitions available for statewide travel. For additional information on VMFA and its statewide resources, please phone 804.204.2681.

LIMITED Security
Loan Period: 4 to 6 Weeks
Fee: Free

Code Number: GA-93
Framed Size: 16″ x 20″
Running Feet: 14′
Boxed Weight: 105 lbs.

To supplement the exhibition, we recommend the following related resources available through the Statewide Program. For more information or to schedule a speaker, workshop or media resource, call 804.204.2681or email edpartner@vmfa.museum.

Speakers on the Arts:
(Mis)Perceptions: Truth, Purpose, and Beauty in American Indian Art with Barbara Rothermel
The World of George Catlin with Jeffrey W. Allison

Teacher Workshops:
American Myths of the Wild West