Title: Buffalo Chase in Snowdrifts, Indians Pursuing on Snowshoes
Creator: George Catlin
Format: Oil on canvas painting
Location: Smithsonian American Art Museum
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.