Thursday, January 9, 2014

More on George Catlin in Albany, May 1837

Big Elk, Omaha chief “with his tomahawk in his hand, and face painted black, for war”
George Catlin, 1832
Below, early praise for George Catlin's exhibit and lecture at Stanwix Hall, in a letter to the editor of the Albany Evening Journal signed, "Z." The writer urges a larger attendance, four days after Catlin's Indian gallery opened on May 15, 1837.

FOR THE EVENING JOURNAL.

Mr. EDITOR:— I was not less astonished than delighted at the unique and almost magical entertainment, which was afforded me last evening by Mr. Catlin’s collection of Indian portraits and spirited sketches, illustrative of the manners and customs of the different tribes inhabiting the northern continent, and also by his unrivalled collection of dresses, weapons, &c. many of them rare even among the nations themselves, and of surpassing beauty.  The interest attached to these was enhanced by a lecture, or rather conversation, abounding in anecdote and new information relating to this extraordinary people, and it was delivered in simple, unaffected, but eminently descriptive language, which absorbed the attention of his audience from the commencement to the end of his discourse.
There is no exaggeration in saying, that this  gentleman has created a name for himself which will descend to the latest posterity—he has labored unceasingly for years, sacrificed the comforts of his home, and perilled his life, to procure the hitherto only perfect history of a people fast passing away.  The task has been nobly and faithfully fulfilled.  It will hardly be credited after this, that the number of his audience was comparatively few.  But soon, I predict, no room will be capacious enough to contain the crowds who will be attracted by his fame.  As he himself gratefully acknowledged, it was owing to the fostering patronage of the Albanians, that a Forrest has risen to the pinnacle of his art, and proudly stands without a rival; nor is he a solitary instance of their correct application of genius and talent.  Then let it not be said that it is at fault when the far higher claims of science are submitted to their judgment.
Z.
 (Albany Evening Journal, Friday, May 19, 1837)

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