George Catlin

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George Catlin (1796 – December 23, 1872) was a self-taught American painter known for his portraits of Native Americans. During his career he documented 48 different Native American tribes. Many of the body modification practices of the people he painted are clearly documented in his portraits. He also took extensive notes on the customs of the people he painted. Some of his portraits are the only known portrayals of some tribes, most notably the mandan tribe, whose O-Kee-Pa ritual he documented.

Catlin also formed some of the earliest Wild West shows, portrayals both in the United States and Europe, exposing thousands of audience members to his paintings. In 1852, he went bankrupt and sold his paintings to a private collector, whose descendants later donated them to the Smithsonian.

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