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George Winter (1810-1876)
Crooked Creek, Indiana
oil on canvas
20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm.)
Private collection, Seattle, Washington.
Estate of the above.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2003.

Lot Essay

The present work depicts the Potawatomi Indians in August 1837. George Winter first traveled to the central Wabash Valley of Indiana in 1837. At this time, "the northern half of the state still contained large numbers of Potawatomi...Although all of these tribes previously had relinquished their claims to most of their lands north of the Wabash, they still occupied numerous small individual or village reservations, and many held a deep emotional attachment to the region...Although state and federal officials had attempted to remove them west of the Mississippi, the Potawatomis...clung tenaciously to their homeland, steadfastly refusing both the threats and the promises of the government." (S.E. Cooke et al., Indians and a Changing Frontier: The Art of George Winter, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1993, p. 23)

Unlike his contemporaries Winter did not believe that the Potawatomi were uncivilized, instead he was fascinated by the tribe and attuned to their sophisticated culture. He tried to portray in his various paintings, sketches and journals that they "had proven remarkably adaptive and had combined traditional tribal values with many new ideas offered to them by Europeans." (Indians and a Changing Frontier: The Art of George Winter, p. 23)

"Most historians would agree. Winter's sketches and paintings are the best visual record of Native American life in Indiana during this period, and indeed, his depictions of Indian costumes and daily life are unsurpassed for the Potawatomis." (Indians and a Changing Frontier: The Art of George Winter, p. 37)

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