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History, Native Americans, McKenney & Hall, Octavo, Antique Prints, Mid 19th Century (Sold)

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Charles Bird King (1785-1862) (after)
Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall (editors)
History of the Indian Tribes of North America
D. Rice and A.N. Hart, Philadelphia: 1842
Hand-colored lithographs by J.T. Bowen
Octavo Edition
10.25 x 6.5 inches sight size
15.75 x 12.25 inches, framed

A grouping of six framed prints from the octavo edition of McKenney & Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America.  Together with the original folio edition, this is the most extensive and accurate 19th century series of Native American portraits, with 120 lithographs based on oil paintings by the renowned artist Charles Bird King, as well as by Karl Bodmer, James Otto Lewis, P. Rhindesbacher, F. Bartoli, and R.M. Sully. The portraits were drawn on stone by A. Newsam, A. Hoffy, Ralph Trembley, Henry Dacre, and others and were printed and colored by J.T. Bowen and others.

Product description continues below.


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.


Bennett, Whitman. A Practical Guide to American Book Collecting (1663-1940).  New York: Bennett Book Studios, 1941.  Read Books, 2007. p. 79.

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