The Red Man's Bones: George Catlin Artist And Showman by Benita EislerThe Red Man's Bones: George Catlin Artist And Showman by Benita Eisler

The Red Man's Bones: George Catlin Artist And Showman

byBenita Eisler

Hardcover | July 23, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 158 plum® points

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


George Catlin has been called the “first artist of the West,” as none before him lived among and painted the Native American tribes of the Northern Plains. After a false start as a painter of miniatures, Catlin found his calling: to fix the image of a “vanishing race” before their “extermination”—his word—by a government greedy for their lands. In the first six years of the 1830s, he created over six hundred portraits—unforgettable likenesses of individual chiefs, warriors, braves, squaws, and children belonging to more than thirty tribes living along the upper Missouri River.

Political forces thwarted Catlin’s ambition to sell what he called his “Indian Gallery” as a national collection, and in 1840 the artist began three decades of self-imposed exile abroad. For a time, his exhibitions and writings made him the most celebrated American expatriate in London and Paris. He was toasted by Queen Victoria and breakfasted with King Louis-Philippe, who created a special gallery in the Louvre to show his pictures. But when he started to tour “live” troupes of Ojibbewa and Iowa, Catlin and his fortunes declined: He changed from artist to showman, and from advocate to exploiter of his native performers. Tragedy and loss engulfed both.

This brilliant and humane portrait brings to life George Catlin and his Indian subjects for our own time. An American original, he still personifies the artist as a figure of controversy, torn by conflicting demands of art and success.

Benita Eisler's subject is the life and work of artists, and their worlds. She has written on the Romantics, Byron, Chopin, and George Sand, and is the author of a dual biography of early modernists Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. She lives in New York City.
Title:The Red Man's Bones: George Catlin Artist And ShowmanFormat:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9.6 × 6.5 × 1.5 inPublished:July 23, 2013Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393066169

ISBN - 13:9780393066166


Editorial Reviews

“An elegant, thoughtful new biography.” — Kate Tuttle (Boston Globe)

“Pitch-perfect… [Eisler] is a skilled writer, showing both flair and economy.” — Tim Bross (Saint Louis Post-Dispatch)

“[A] lively and well-researched biography.” — New Yorker