Buffalo Chase in Snowdrifts, Indians Pursuing on Snowshoes

Buffalo Chase in Snowdrifts, Indians Pursuing on Snowshoes

Title: Buffalo Chase in Snowdrifts, Indians Pursuing on Snowshoes
Creator: George Catlin
Date: 1832-33
Format: Oil on canvas painting
Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum
Link: http://americanart.si.edu/luce/object.cfm?key=338&artistmedia=277&subkey=359

This painting by George Catlin captures a period of environmental purity and Native American inhabitance in the United States. As an environmental explorer himself, Catlin was attempting to convey two parallel concepts. He displays the harsh realities of frontier life for native inhabitants (the killing of wild buffalo for food purposes). Yet, he creates a soothing landscape of mellow whites to also display the natural, undisturbed beauty of the last frontier. Perhaps Catlin, as a frequent explorer of the west, foresaw the industrialist footsteps of man were to soon encroach on this land. By rendering this painting, he was immortalizing the harsh, yet serene beauty of a land not many in the east entirely understood. This painting fascinates me because it reveals a time period in American history where man was deeply connected with nature and the land. Catlin knew his artwork would survive years after him, so this painting was critical in reminding future generations to not only aim for a natural landscape that all animals and humans can thrive on, but to also appreciate the beauty in the natural world around us.

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3 thoughts on “Buffalo Chase in Snowdrifts, Indians Pursuing on Snowshoes”

  1. I agree, this painting gives a great sense of peace and beauty of the natural way of native american culture.Perhaps the dark clouds in the distance portray the storm of industrialization that is coming towards the west, as you said. I think this could easily sway the opinions of the americans living in the east to gain a better understanding of the west and the how it should be left unharmed. I wonder at what point in westward expansion this was made, to know whether this was mourning the lost beauty of the indian culture or celebrating it in order to stop it from being harmed.

  2. This photo captures an untouched moment. Native Americans are hunting without the presence of modern civilization interjecting. I think this painting reminds me of the abundance of natural resources the world once had. Buffalo swarm the snow and Native Americans never hunted more than they needed. I agree, this painting illustrates a natural and peaceful scene. Maybe this painting was created to remind people of how life once was.

  3. I think that this is a really cool picture that hasn’t gotten a ton of attention. It’s interesting because it shows the untouched landscape that the native americans inhabited. There’s pure white snow and buffalo everywhere, and this contrasts the hunting of buffalo during the 19th century when the buffalo were hunted almost to extinction.

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