Native American Portraits 1838-1850 | Hand-Colored Lithographs by McKenney & Hall | The Jessica Ehmann Collection
September 12, 2013 - November 9, 2013
Hand-Colored Lithographs from “The History of the American Tribes of North America,” McKenney & Hall
The Jessica Ehmann Collection
The great achievement and lasting value of this work lies in the magnificent lithograph portraits compiled in the publication, The History of the American Tribes of North America by McKenney & Hall. In 1865, 115 of the 120 paintings upon which the lithographs are based were destroyed in the worst fire in the Smithsonian’s history. The History of the American Tribes of North America was to be a work of great national importance, containing exact copies of the portraits using hand-colored stone lithography and containing biographical histories.
The Wisconsin connection
Of local interest, many of the portraits in this collection represent regional Native American tribes. Twice during McKenney’s tenure as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs his work brought him to Wisconsin, which likely explains the inclusion of so many Native Americans from the Great Lakes region.