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George Catlin - American Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - George Catlin (1796 - 1872)

George Catlin was an American painter and writer who specialized in depicting Native American life. He initially was employed as a lawyer but switched to art in the 1820's when he worked as a portraitist. In 1830, he began visiting Native American tribes. His paintings were better received in Europe than in the United States. Regardless, they never were commercially successful and Catlin went bankrupt in 1852. Catlin’s dream was to sell his Indian Gallery to the U.S. government so that his life’s work would be preserved intact. His continued attempts to persuade various officials in Washington, D.C. failed. He was forced to sell the original Indian Gallery, now 607 paintings, due to personal debts in 1852. The nearly complete surviving set of Catlin’s first Indian Gallery painted in the 1830s is now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection. Some 700 sketches are in the American Museum of Natural History, New York City.

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