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 early training in England exposed him to the traditional pastoral, classically inspired landscapes modeled after the work of 17th-century French painter Claude Lorrain. Although this canvas purportedly depicts a view of the Wabash River near Lafayette, the graceful trees that frame the foreground, the measured recession of space, and the warm, dusky light suggest that it is a thoroughly idealized scene. Landscapes that partially transformed the untamed Indiana countryside into an orderly, ideal world probably appealed to Winter’s purchasers.
Kitty Dye. Meet George Winter: Pioneer Artist, Journalist, Entrepreneur, St. Louis, Missouri: LeClere Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0970250117
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