|Acquisition Number: 46.15
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 17 1/2" x 23 1/2"
Credit: Gift of J.H. Fry
Didactic: Born in Tennessee, raised in Brooklyn and Darien, Connecticut, George de Forest Brush began his academic training at the National Academy of Design in New York in 1870. Three years later he journeyed to Paris to continue his training under the tutelage of Jean Léon Géróme. Following six years of travel and study, Brush returned to New York determined to find an American subject that would set him apart from his contemporaries. In the spring of 1882, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and among America’s native people, he found his subject.
For more than a year, starting in 1882, Brush lived among the Arapahoe and the Shoshone in Wyoming and the Crow in Montana. He began to compose and exhibit studio paintings based on his experiences, declaring, however that he did not wish to be an ethnographer or historian of Indian people.
Painting during a period bracketed by the Battle of the Little Big Horn (1876) and the massacre at Wounded Knee (1890), the artist created stylized images of Indians far removed from the reality of contemporary Indian life. Instead, Brush’s paintings are unmistakable personal. Increasingly disturbed by the rapid industrialization and mechanization of American society, Brush offered, in his art, the perfect foil—a seductively beautiful pre-industrial world where idealized Indians live in a timeless environment undisturbed by modern society.