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Buffalo Bull, Grazing on the Prairie

1832-1833 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 oil on canvas 24 x 29 in. (60.9 x 73.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr. 1985.66.404 Not currently on view


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“The American bison, or . . . buffalo, is the largest of the ruminating animals that is now living in America; and seems to have been spread over the plains of this vast country, by the Great Spirit, for the use and subsistence of the red men, who live almost exclusively on their flesh, and clothe themselves with their skins . . . The buffalo bull often grows to the enormous weight of 2000 pounds, and shakes a long and shaggy black mane, that falls in great profusion and confusion over his head and shoulders; and oftentimes falling down quite to the ground. The horns are short, but very large, and have but one turn, i.e. they are a simple arch, without the least approach to a spiral form, like those of the common ox, or of the goat species.” George Catlin made this sketch on the Upper Missouri in 1832. (Catlin, Letters and Notes, vol. 1, no. 31, 1841; reprint 1973)

Keywords

Animal - buffalo

Landscape - plain

Western

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

metal - aluminum - support added

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