George Winter was born in England, where he studied four years at the Royal Academy before coming to America in 1830 to continue his art education in New York. In 1835 he took up residence in Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon hearing of the plight of northern Indiana’s Potawatomi Indians, who were being removed to Kansas in what became known as “Potawatomi Trail of Death,” Winter settled in Logansport, Indiana, to document their culture. After 13 years in Logansport, he moved to Lafayette, Indiana, and then spent three years in California. Shortly after his return to Indiana in 1876, Winter died suddenly. Although he is known primarily for documenting the relocation of the Potawatomi and Miami tribes, Winter was a writer whose prose not only conveys the anguish of the relocation but also the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Winter is also known for his documentation of the life of Frances Slocum, a Quaker child who was abducted by Indians and later became the wife of the tribe’s chief.
Nocturnal Landscape may have been included in one of the lotteries Winter organized each year from 1852 through the 1870s to stimulate his sales. People from as far away as Iowa and New York bought two-dollar lottery tickets in hopes of winning a large painting such as Nocturnal Landscape. One of the most effective of Winter’s landscapes, this nighttime setting is unusual among American landscapes of the period. Winter’s gray-blue palette cloaks the Indiana landscape in a Romantic gloom, punctuated by the cool, otherworldly light of the moon and the reassuring glow from the cabin window.
Kitty Dye. Meet George Winter: Pioneer Artist, Journalist, Entrepreneur, St. Louis, Missouri: LeClere Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0970250117
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