Scene on the Wabash

George Winter (American, born English, 1810-1876)

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In this painting George Winter captures the riverside activities of the Potawatomi, including women washing and tending cooking pots on a rocky inlet on the Wabash River near Logansport. The setting is clearly idealized with its feathery trees and fluffy clouds painted in the manner of European painters of previous centuries. Winter’s journals, sketches, and paintings today also serve as rare records documenting the lives of Indiana’s native inhabitants from a time before photography became common.

Seeking adventure, Winter traveled to Logansport, Indiana, in 1837 from his home in Cincinnati when he learned that a council would take place there to address the fate of the Potawatomi. They, along with the Miami, were slated for removal from northern Indiana to points west of the Mississippi River. The absence of Native Americans in his later paintings, shown nearby in this gallery, is a testimony to the tragedy of the forced removal.


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 thirteen 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 convey 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.

The IMA collection contains several paintings by George Winter two of which are titled Scene on the Wabash. Both of these works portray a group of Potawatomi Indians gathered next to the Wabash River. The figures are posed in a casual setting, reflecting Winter’s goal of recording the daily life and customs of these people. This particular painting concentrates on family activities, particularly women washing clothes in the Wabash. It exemplifies the type of gathering of the Potawatomi that established Winter’s reputation as an artist.


Kitty Dye. Meet George Winter: Pioneer Artist, Journalist, Entrepreneur, St. Louis, MO: LeClere Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0970250117

The artist; Blackburn family, San Francisco; Blackburn Estate; (Atelier Dore, San Francisco); (Gerald Peters Gallery, Jackson Hole, Wyoming); Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. [1918-2008], Indianapolis, Indiana; given by bequest to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2009 (TR10964).

Object Information

George Winter (American, born English, 1810-1876)
creation date
about 1848
oil on canvas
29 x 36 in. (canvas)
35 x 41-7/8 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Signed and dated, verso: Scene on the Wabash / Vicinity of Logansport, Indiana / Painted by Geo Winter / 1848
other title
Indians along the Wabash
accession number
credit line
Bequest of Judge Paul H. Buchanan, Jr.
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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