George Catlin

Birth: 1796

Death:1872

CATLIN, GEORGE (July 26, 1796 - December 23, 1872) was an American ethnologist, was born at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1796. He was educated as a lawyer and practised in Philadelphia for two years; but art was his favourite pursuit, and forsaking the law he established himself at New York as a portrait painter. In 1832, realizing that the American Indians were dying out, he resolved to rescue their types and customs from oblivion.

With this object he spent many years among the Indians in North and South America. He lived with them, acquired their languages, and studied very thoroughly their habits, customs and mode of life, making copious notes and many studies for paintings. In 1840 he came to Europe with his collection of paintings, most of which are now in the National Museum, Washington, as the Catlin Gallery; and in the following year he published the Manners, Customs and Condition of the North American Indians in two volumes, illustrated with 300 engravings.

This was followed in 1844 by The North American Portfolio, containing 25 plates of hunting scenes and amusements in the Rocky Mountains and the prairies of America, and in 1848 by Eight Years' Travels and Residence in Europe. In 1861 he published a curious little volume, in "manugraph," entitled The Breath of Life, on the advantage of keeping one's mouth habitually closed, especially during sleep; and in 1868, Last Rambles amongst the Indians of the Rocky Mountains and the Andes. He died in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the 22nd of December 1872.

1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 5. pg. 534.

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