CATLIN, GEORGE. 1796-1872.
CATLIN, GEORGE. 1796-1872. North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains and prairies of America. From drawings and notes of the author, made during eight years' travel amongst forty-eight of the wildest and most remote tribes of savages in North America. London: Geo. Catlin, 1844.
Folio (597 x 419 mm). Title page, 20 pp. of descriptive text, 25 hand-colored lithographs, coloring later, all captioned and numbered. Contemporary burgundy half morocco, cloth boards, upper cover and spine titled in gilt. Minor spotting on a few plates; rebacked and recased.
First edition, tinted issue, with later hand-coloring. Catlin published the first two issues of the North American Indian Portfolio simultaneously in late November 1844. The first issue was hand-colored, while the second had tinted plates (which were often colored later, as here). Catlin originally envisaged publishing a series of linked but separate portfolios, each with its own theme: religious rites, dances, costumes, etc. Unfortunately, the first series was the only one that was ever published, and its production proved to be so taxing (both financially and physically) that Catlin sold both the publication and distribution rights to Henry Bohn.
Catlin spent years living, traveling, and painting with the North American Indians. From 1832 to 1837 he spent the summer months sketching the tribes, then finished his pictures in oils during the winter. The record he left is unique, both in its breadth and also in the sympathetic understanding that his images constantly demonstrate. A selection of the greatest of images from this record were published in the North American Indian Portfolio in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible. A key work for any serious collection of western Americana.
In addition to publishing the present work, Catlin also spent from 1837 to 1852 touring the United States, England, France, and Holland with his collection of paintings and examples of Indian crafts, accompanied by representative members of the Indian tribes. A financial reverse in 1852 meant that he lost the collection, but he spent his later years making several trips to South and Central America, sketching the natives there. Abbey Travel 653; Howes C-243; Sabin 11532.