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PAINTING THE WILD FRONTIER by Susanna Reich Kirkus Star

PAINTING THE WILD FRONTIER

The Art and Adventures of George Catlin

By Susanna Reich

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: July 21st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-618-71470-4
Publisher: Clarion

With graceful writing and fascinating artwork, this well-designed biography explores the work and adventures of George Catlin. Best known for his many paintings of American Indians, Catlin traveled extensively in the American West and South America in the mid-1800s. He lived rough and encountered many dangers, some life-threatening. His own writing proves a fertile source of lively stories and quotations: He described being attacked by a jaguar that he was hunting, possibly for its tail, which he recommended for its “deliciousness of flavor.” Reich places Catlin’s life in the context of art history and provides an overview of the Indian tribes he encountered and their plights. The complex portrait of Catlin is even-handed; he hoped to champion the cause of Indians but also partly exploited them to make his living. While he created a remarkable historical record, his family suffered financially and by his prolonged absences. An author’s note addresses the challenges of a white author’s writing about Indians and the reliability of Catlin’s writing. A handsome, well-documented volume. (timeline, endnotes, bibliography; map, index not seen) (Biography. 12 & up)