Original hand colored stone litho from “History of the Indian Tribes of North America” by Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall. Published by F. W. Greenough, Philadelphia. Circa 1836. Excellent condition. 20-3/4” by 14-3/4”
Thomas Loraine McKenney (1785-1859) served as Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1824-1830. In that capacity he commissioned and collected portraits of Native Americans for his Gallery in the War Department. Most of the portraits were painted by Charles Bird King (1785-1862) in Washington, D.C. during visits of Native delegations. Other artists are represented, including James Otto Lewis (1799-1858). McKenney's goal was to publish a record of vanishing peoples: portraits, biographical sketches, and a history of North American Indians. He accomplished this in the first issue of History of the Indian Tribes of North America, published in three volumes between 1836 and 1844. James Hall (1793-1868) provided the text and Henry Inman (1801-1846) copied many of the original portraits for the publication. Because most of the original portraits were destroyed in a fire in the Smithsonian Institution in 1865 these images form the only record not only of the individuals portrayed, but also of important works of 19th Century American artists.