Philadelphia: D. Rice and A.N. Hart, 1849. First edition. Single sheet matted in rag board. Fine condition. Original lithograph; printed and colored by J.T. Bowen, Philadelphia. Octavo (6.75 x 10 .5 inches). Matted in Rag Board.
As the oil on canvas portrait of Wat-Che-Mon-Ne: An Ioway Chief known as The Orator, was destroyed by fire in 1865, the original hand-colored lithographs by JT Bowen are the only surviving rendering of this essential chapter of Americana.
During the first quarter of the nineteenth century as the Native American people traveled to Washington DC to discuss their plight; the loss of their lands and destruction of their people, they appealed to Thomas McKenney, the then Chief to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in whom they found a sincere advocate in the efforts to improve the welfare of the Native American people. After meeting to discuss the situation, McKenney invited every one of his guests to sit for formal portraits, and included all members; not only the Chiefs, but also the Warriors, Braves and Women.
A pioneer in the study of North American ethnology and superintendent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs under John C. Calhoun, Thomas Loraine McKenney (Chestertown, MD 1785-1859) assembled in his War Department office a virtual archive of the American Indian; a large collection of books, manuscripts, artifacts, and paintings that constituted the first museum in Washington, DC. The core of the collection was a gallery of 150 portraits of prominent Indian men and women, most of them painted by Washington artist Charles Bird King (Newport, RI 1785-1862), during official visits to Washington. In addition, King copied and painted several portraits after James Otto Lewis (1799-1858).
These portraits were later published as part of a mammoth lithography project that McKenney conceived of and launched, with the aid of writer James Hall (Philadelphia 1793-1868). Known as the History of the Indian Tribes of North America, the publication features the portraits and biographies of 120 Indian men and women from McKenney’s collection. The entire archive eventually ended up at the Smithsonian Institution, where the portraits were destroyed by fire in 1865. (ANB. 0300320). Fine. Item #7300
Bennett 79. BAL 6934. Field 779. Howes 129. Reese 24. Sabin 43401A
Lowry-James Rare Prints & Books
Fine & Rare Natural History c.1600-1900
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