Vanished Worlds, Enduring People
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Catlin (1796-1852) was determined to educate the public about the diverse and threatened native cultures he encountered during his 1832-1836 tours of the West. Catlin’s well-publicized Indian Gallery, which traveled to several cities in Europe and America, featured his paintings of Indian subjects and his collection of ethnographic objects as background to his lectures. Catlin’s admiration for native peoples and his criticism of incursions into their territories provided audiences with a different perspective about western tribes. In late 1839 he shipped eight tons of materials to London, where his gallery opened in January 1840. The gallery traveled to various venues until, in 1852, declining public interest forced his to auction off his paintings to satisfy creditors.
Catlin was a born publicist. Cornell’s Native American Collection includes handbills, admission tickets, and newspaper clippings advertising his gallery in London and Paris.