A very fine and rare 19th century McKenney & Hall hand colored lithograph with original text sheet on verso. Plate published by J.T. Bowen, Philad. 1841.
KA-TA-WA-BE-DA, A Chippeway Chief
Thomas Loraine McKenney (American, 1785-1859). James Hall (American, 1793-1868).
Dimensions: Lithographs measure 20 inches vertical x 14 inches horizontal. Frames measure 25 inches x 19 inches. Displayed in a solid cherry wood frame.
The following text courtesy of 'Canada's First People': firstpeoplesofcanada.com
"Thomas McKenney 1785-1859: After the War of 1812 the American Government transported Indian chiefs, resplendent in their tribal finery, from the western and Great Lakes regions, to Washington, DC, to sign away their lands.
In 1816 Thomas McKenney was appointed, by the US War Department, to supervise government relations with America's Indian people. Over the next twenty years he used his office to champion the preservation of the culture of the American Indian, becoming the first head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. During that time he commissioned artists to paint what he saw as a vanishing national resource, the original peoples of America.
McKenney hired Charles Bird King to paint most of the spectacular portraits of Indian chiefs and warriors for his War Department Gallery of the American Indian.
He also commissioned a few others including Peter Rindisbacher, who had come to Canada's Red River Colony and started painting Indians there. Rindisbacher had a unique style of painting that makes his superb art instantly recognizable
After he was dismissed from government McKenney compiled what is probably the finest ethnographic portfolio of American lithographs ever produced, featuring 120 superb portraits of the leading Indian chiefs of America in the early 19th century, including Joseph Brant, Thayendanegea and Ahyouwaighs of the Six Nations.
McKenney & Hall: Thomas McKenney compiled the pictures and wrote the biographies of the chiefs that accompanied the portraits, based on interviews he conducted when they came to Washington, DC, or when he made field trips into the wilderness regions of the American west. He engaged James Hall 1793-1868, a lawyer who had written extensively on the west, to write the general history of the North American Indian which accompanied the pictures.
McKenney & Hall's, three volume set, "The History of the Indian Tribes of North America," issued in 1837-1844, is probably the finest ethnographic work ever produced in America. The lithographs were hand coloured. The first sets were issued in folio size - pages were 14 x 20 inches. A smaller octavo size printing was also made so that more people could afford them.
Single lithographs, disbound from these original volumes, sell for hundreds of dollars (US) each, some sell for as high as $5,500.
Fire! The original paintings were hung in the Smithsonian until all but five were destroyed in a fire in 1865. Luckily McKenney had been secretly smuggling the portraits out of the museum to be copied by Henry Inman, and then returned. Today only the lithographs from his volumes show what Charles Bird King's original portraits looked like.
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