Catlin and His Contemporaries: the Politics of Patronage. Brian W. Dippie.

Catlin and His Contemporaries: the Politics of Patronage

Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, (1990). Small 4to. 10-1/4" x 7-3/8" Black cloth covered boards stamped in silver. 553 pp. including index. Item #430

This book examines how the preeminent painter of western Indians before the Civil War went about the business of making a living from his work. Catlin shared with such artists as Seth Eastman and John Mix Stanley a desire to preserve a visual record of a race seen as doomed and competed with them for federal assistance. In a young republic with little institutional and governmental support available, painters, writers, and scholars became rivals and sometimes bitter adversaries. Brian W. Dippie untangles the complex web of interrelationships between artists, government officials, members of Congress, businessmen antiquarians and literati, kings and queens, and the Indians themselves. In this history of the politics of patronage during the nineteenth century, luminaries like Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Henry H. Sibley, John James Audubon, Alfred Jacob Miller, and Karl Bodmer are linked with Catlin in a contest for the support of the arts, setting a precedent for later generations.

The best book in American cultural history that I have read in the last twenty-five years. Dippie's organization and presentation of a very complex subject is a dazzling performance, fully matched by his brilliant and evocative writing." - William H. Goetzmann, Pulitzer Prize winning author and Stiles Professor of American Studies, University of Texas at Austin. "An engrossing story of one of the most important of the early western artists and his attempt to secure the government purchase of his Indian Gallery. It is based on sound research."

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