Native American Portraits

The somberness of many Native American portraits tells the tale of what these people endured when Europeans swooped in and claimed their ancestral land. Most portraits show both stoic pride and deep sadness, and these images help modern Americans understand the price that was paid for the country we now know and love.

George Caltin is one of many who captured the Native American well in paintings. In the 1830s he traveled throughout the west visiting many tribes and creating around 500 paintings that include both Native American portraits and scenes depicting the life and culture of the people. His paintings can be seen at these links:

~ George Catlin and His Indian Gallery - A virtual exhibit of his work

~ National Gallery - Information about Catlin with images

Rudolf Cronau's Native American portraits are unique in the fact that he was not an American, but rather was painting on assignment in the United States for a German newspaper. In his travels through the west, he captured on canvas and through drawings the beauty of the Native American culture, as well as many American landscapes. He was also famous for painting the first portrait of Sitting Bull. Much of his work is on display in Germany at the Uebersee Museum in Bremen, Germany.

Millie Torres-Speeg is a modern painter of Native American portraits. Her passion for painting Native Americans, both past and present, comes from her ancestry, which is of the Taino tribe. Her paintings show the spirit and pain that these people have experienced throughout their history. More information about her paintings can be found at these sources:

~ Night Eagle Studio - The artist's online gallery

~ Images of Eyes - An online bio and small gallery of her work

Studying the portraits of great Native Americans is an excellent way to get a feel for the culture and spirit of these people. Whether they are painted by modern artists or artists from long ago, the paintings have a similar feel, because the pride, pain, and character of the people comes through in the painted work.

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