After John VERELST (1648-1734). Etow Oh Koam, King of the River Nation and Tee Yee Ho Ga Row Emperour of the Six Nations. London: J. Simon. Printed, published and "Sold at ye Rainbow and Dove ye Corner of Ivey Bridge in ye Strand", .
Two rare, first state prints from the famous "Indian Kings” series. In 1710, a delegation four Native American leaders, including a Mahican and three Mohawk representing the Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Confederation, travelled to London, with the Governor of New York and other military officials, seeking support against encroachments from the French and their native allies in Canada. While they were not the first aboriginal Americans to visit the British Isles, they, unlike their predecessors, managed to capture the imagination of Londoners who regarded them celebrities, and became the subject of ballads, broadsheets and pamphlets. To mark the occasion of their visit to the Court of St. James, Queen Anne commissioned Dutch artist John Verelst to paint their portraits (now part of the collections of the Library and Archives Canada), and the images were soon in wider circulation as mezzotints by John Simon. This would be the first time Native Americans had been captured in a realistic manner, and as such, they serve as an important historical record. The prints themselves became objects of colonial-native diplomacy, making their away across the Atlantic in time for a conference held in Albany on 25 August 1711 to enlist native support for a march on Montreal planned for that autumn. And while that expedition proved unsuccessful, the mezzotints helped solidify the British alliance with the Haudenosaunee by offering their subjects greater prestige and influence in their communites: "In the final analysis, then, perhaps it is—and was—inconsequential that the four Native Americans taken to London in 1710 were not real sovereigns. Once Verelst had visualized their power and authority, they in effect became real kings, as real as any kingship ever proffered through the finely tuned fiction that is statecraft." (Kevin R. Muller, “From Palace to Longhouse Portraits of the Four Indian Kings in a Transatlantic Context,” American Art, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Fall 2008), p. 47
The first print’s subject, the Machican Etow Oh Koam (dates of birth and death unknown), is depicted holding a club, his face bearing tatoos of thunderbirds—an important symbol for warriors that evoked the dangers of the natural world. And while he was identified in print as “King of the River Nation,” in reality he held the status of a diplomat. Meanwhile the Mohawk Theyanoguin (c. 1680-1775) is shown in Western dress entirely, clad in black as the Court was mourning the death of Queen Anne’s consort. He holds a belt of wampum symbolizing the firm bond of alliance, and presented as “Emperor of the Six Nations.” Hendrick Theyanoguin would become an important leader in the subsequent years. But despite this alliance, the Mohawk, more than any member of the Haudenosaunee, would bear the brunt of European encroachment on their lands, leading him in 1753 to tell “New York Governor George Clinton that ‘the Covenant Chain is broken between you and us. So brother you are not to expect to hear of me any more, and Brother we desire not to hear no more of you.’” That message helped trigger the Albany Conference of 1754 in an effort to shore up relations. (Richter, Ordeal of the Longhouse, p. 272) When war erupted with France the following year, Hendrick Theyanoguin honored his alliance with the British Empire, leading Mohawk forces at the Battle of Lake George where he was killed on 8 September 1755. (see National Portrait Gallery, Four Indian Kings, Washington, 2008) J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits…, London, 1883, Vol. 3, p.1095, no.84 (Indian Kings); W.M.E. Cooke, The Four Indian Kings (Public Archives of Canada exhibition catalogue), Ottawa, 1977, p.6, nos 9-10; J.G. Garratt and B. Robertson, The Four Indian Kings, Ottawa, 1985, E2(a) and (c). (‘the portraits first advertised in The Tatler (London), no.250, 14 Nov. 1710). Provenance: The Winkworth Collection (sale, Christies, South Kensington, 1 April 2015, lot 27).
Two mezzotints. Etow Oh Koam: 16 5/8 x 10 3/8 in (421x 264mm). (Minor chips at bottom margin affecting caption and small loss at left margin); Tee Yee Ha Ga Row: 16 5/8 x 10 3/8 I n (421x 264mm). (Dampstain on right side discolored to purple, sheet laid down with repaired losses and tears). Matted and framed seperately.