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THE ILLUSTRATING TRAVELER

George Catlin painting a Chief

Encountering Native Americans
Part II of III


Michel Guillaume St. Jean Crevecoeur. Voyage dans la Haute Pensylvanie et dans L'etat de New-York, par un Membre Adoptif de la Nation Oneida.... Paris, 1801.

Koohassen, Oneida warrior

Bonfils, "Koohassen, Guerrier de la Nation Oneida." (Aquatint)

Crevecoeur is most famous for his Letters of an American Farmer, a picture of life in America on the verge of the Revolution. After the war he returned to the United States and became French consul at New York, and later traveled among the Iroquois in western New York State, becoming an adopted member of the Onieda Nation. His respect for the Oniedas and their leaders is echoed in the classical pose of the chief Koohassen in profile, as rendered by a Parisian artist.


George Heriot. Travels through the Canadas, Containing a Description of the Picturesque Scenery on some of the Rivers and Lakes.... London, 1807.

Domiciliated Indians

"Costumes of Domiciliated Indians of North America" (Aquatint)

As Deputy Postmaster of British North America, Heriot traveled extensively throughout Canada and observed a variety of cultures tossed together in the wake of the westward moving frontier. He was particularly struck by what he called the "domiciliated Indians," often of mixed blood and certainly of mixed culture, living between two worlds. This aquatint reflects the incongruities he witnessed, including women trying on silk stockings in teepees.


Thomas L. McKenney. Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes, of the Character and Customs of the Chippeway Indians, and of the Incidents Connected with the Treaty of Fon du Lac ... also a Vocabulary of the Algic, or Chippeway Language. Baltimore, 1827.

Indian canoe

James Otto Lewis, "Indian Canoe." (Colored lithograph)

In 1826 McKenney traveled with Lewis Cass to Fond du Lac by way of the Great Lakes to negotiate a treaty with the Chippewa. James Otto Lewis, an indifferent but enthusiastic painter, accompanied the expedition and executed many Indian portraits which became the basis of his Aboriginal Portfolio, an ambitious attempt at a large-scale color plate book which preceded the better known work of McKenney and Hall. Lewis also produced the images used by McKenney in this work, a notable step forward in American illustrated travel books. The account was extensively (if crudely) illustrated with 29 lithographs. A colored version was issued as well. The publisher was the redoubtable Fielding Lucas, a pioneer of American color book illustration; the book came out the same year as his Drawing Book, which also appears in this exhibition.


John Ross. A Voyage of Discovery, made under the Orders of the Admiralty, in His Majesty's Ships Isabella and Alexander, for the Purpose of Exploring Baffin's Bay, and Inquiring into the Probability of a North-West Passage. London, 1819.

First encounter at Prince Regents Bay

John Sackheouse "First Communication with the Natives of Prince Regents Bay, as drawn by John Sackheouse and presented to Capt. Ross, Augt. 10, 1818." (Colored aquatint)

The voyage of John Ross into Baffin's Bay in 1818 was a pioneering effort in high Arctic exploration, and his narrative, published the following year, was the finest series of Arctic views then published. One of the most striking plates was based not on the work of an English officer but of the expedition's Inuit interpreter, John Sackheouse, depicting the successful meeting between the expedition and Inuits at Prince Regent's Bay. Ross calls it "...the first specimen we had witnessed of his talents for historical composition...a correct copy is subjoined, without the slightest variation from the original." This is certainly the earliest representational work by a native American artist to be so reproduced.


John Ross. Narrative of a Second Voyage in Search of a North-West Passage, and of a Residence in the Arctic Regions during the Years 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833....Appendix. London, 1835.

Ikmalick and Apelagliu

"Ikmalick and Apelagliu." (Colored lithograph)

During his second expedition to the Canadian Arctic, Ross spent much time with Inuit people. In the appendix to his account of the voyage Ross included portraits and biographies of a number of Inuits, a mark of the degree to which Native Americans had moved from being depersonalized tribespeople to individuals in the eyes of European explorers. The husband of this couple helped Ross and his party plan their expedition by drawing a chart of the waters they proposed to traverse.


William E. Parry. Journal of a Second Voyage for the Discovery of a NorthWest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific; Performed in the Years 1821-22-23.... London, 1824.

Interior of an Eskimo snow hut

George Lyon, "Interior of the Eskimaux Snow-Hut, Winter Island, 1822." (Aquatint)

Parry was the most successful of the British Arctic explorers of his period, and his second voyage is particularly rich in images of Inuit life. The party was particularly intrigued by the igloos they visited, one of which Capt. George Lyon sketched in this scene of winter domestic life. The extent of illustration in the works of Parry, Ross, and Franklin set an admirable standard for later scientific explorers in North America.


John Richardson. Arctic Searching Expedition: A Journal of a Boat-Voyage through Rupert's Land and the Arctic Sea, in Search of the Discovery Ships Under Command of Sir John Franklin.... London, 1851.

Kutchin warrior and wife

Alexander H. Murray, "Kutchin Warrior & His Wife." (Chromolithograph)

Richardson was the foremost early naturalist of the North American Arctic and a veteran of numerous trips to the far North when he led the expedition described here in search of Sir John Franklin. His published account includes a number of images of a sub-Arctic Athapaskan tribe, the Kutchin, whom he visited in far northwest Canada in 1848. These published images and Murray's original drawings, known to scholars only through photostats in the British Columbia Provincial Archives, are the best early images of the tribe.


Encountering Native Americans, Part III

Customs of the Country
Valor and Endurance
An Analytic Eye
The Sublime and the Picturesque
The Spirit of Place

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