Charles Bird King was an American portrait painter, employed by the War Department to paint the portraits of Indian treaty delegates visiting Washington, D.C. Thomas Loraine McKenney served as Superintendant of the Indian Trade Bureau, and subsequently as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for a total of 16 years, and it was his idea for the government to commission portraits of the Indians. King made most of the 143 paintings completed between 1822 and 1842. McKenney was moved by a concern that the tribes and their culture were threatened by settlers and unsympathetic state and federal government officials. He also sought to create a written record for future generations, collaborating with writer James Hall to produce a three-volume work on the life and culture of the American Indian, History of the Indian Tribes of North America, which included reproductions of King’s paintings. Most of the original paintings were subsequently destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian, so the lithographs in McKenney and Hall’s history constitute the only record of the likenesses of some of the prominent Indian leaders of the 19th century.
John T. Bowen was an artist and lithographer who operated in New York from 1834 to 1838 and in Philadelphia thereafter, until around 1856. Among his best-known works are the lithographs for John James Audubon’s octavo edition of The Birds of America 1840-44) and the folio plates from Audubon’s The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1842-1848). He also published the lithographs for McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America (1838), as well as a series of 20 views of Philadelphia after J.C. Wild and John T. Bowen’s United States Drawing Book with 37 views of locales in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.
Condition: Generally very good, the paper uniformly a bit toned overall, with the usual light wear and handling. Frames with the usual light wear.
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Groce, George C. and Wallace, David H. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America 1564-1860. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969. pp. 70-71 (Bowen).
Horan, James D. The McKenney-Hall Portrait Gallery of American Indians. New York: Bramhall House, 1986. pp. 13-15, 314-317.
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Lipperheide, Franz von. Katalog Der Freiherrlich Von Lipperheideõschen Kostümbibliothek. Mansfield Center, Connecticut: Martino, c. 1996 (reprint of 1896-1905 ed.). Mc4.
Peters, Harry T. America on Stone. U.S.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. pp. 103-105 (Bowen).
Sabin, Joseph, Wilberforce Eames and R.W.G. Vail. Dictionary of Books Relating to America: From Its Discovery to the Present Time, Volumes I and II. Mansfield Center, CT: Martino, 1998 (reprint of 1868 ed.). 43410.