Ki-On-Twog-Ky, known in English as Cornplanter (ca. 1740-1836) , was a Seneca chief originally from New York State. His father was a Dutch trader. Under his leadership, in the 1750s, the Seneca tribe, alongside the British colonists, battled the French colonists in the French and Indian War. Subsequently he aligned the Senecas with Great Britain against the American colonists in the American Revolutionary War. After that war, he came to New York City in the late 18th Century, seeking peace for his tribe. A European artist named F. Bartoli painted his portrait in New York City in 1796, which is currently in the possession of the New York Historical Society. In gratitude for Cornplanter’s cooperation in keeping the Seneca neutral during the Ohio Indian Wars, he was given a grant of land along the western bank of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. An agreement between a representative of George Washington and Cornplanter guaranteed the land would be held in perpetuity by the Seneca people, but Cornplanter’s Grant was confiscated by the U.S. government in 1964 in order to construct the Kinzua Dam, which flooded the habitable portion of the land, dislocating 230 members of the tribe.
Although the offered lithograph Cornplanter is based on a painting by European artist F. Bartoli executed in 1796, most of the lithographs in this series were based on 19th century paintings by Charles Bird King, an American portrait painter. King was 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.
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“Sovereign People: Ancestry in Land.” Carnegie Museum of Natural History. http://www.carnegiemnh.org/online/indians/iroquois/cornplanter.html (14 August 2017).