Collection of Judge Biddle, Logansport and John B. Elam, Indianapolis, Indiana; Mr. Harvey Elam; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1920.
Here, a group of Potawatomi Indians gather next to the Wabash River. The figures are posed in a casual setting, reflecting Winter's goal to record the daily life and customs of these people.
Winter was born in England and came to America in 1830 to study in New York. In 1837 he moved to Logansport, Indiana.
Scene on the Wabash (near Pipe Creek), probably 1840s
oil on canvas
23 x 28 ½ inches
Gift of Harvey Elam
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.
Winter’s arrival in Logansport, Indiana, coincided with the last months of the Potawatomiin Indiana. His ambition to record, with an ethnographer’s attention to detail, the daily life and customs of the Wabash Potawatomi resulted in scores of drawings, made between 1837 and 1838, which served as the basis for Indian paintings such as Scene on the Wabash. The Potawatomi’s contented expressions are at odds with the overall melancholy of the barren landscape. Winter often included a dead tree in his Potawatomi pictures as a symbol of their removal from native lands.
Kitty Dye. Meet George Winter: Pioneer Artist, Journalist, Entrepreneur, St. Louis, Missouri: LeClere Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0970250117
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