Stark Museum of Art

Orange, Texas



Paul Kane (1810-1871)


Now on exhibit at the Stark Museum of Art through May 2000 is a selection of Paul Kane original studies in oil from the museum's permanent collection. Featured are landscapes, portraits, and scenes of tribal life that Paul Kane encountered as he traveled across North America from the Great Lakes to the Pacific between 1845-1848. Some examples on display include "Assiniboin Indians Hunting Buffalo," "Encampment, Winnipeg," "The Mills of Oregon City," "Wigwam," and "Medicine Pipe Stem Dance."

Paul Kane (1810-1871) was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada. He later moved to Detroit, Michigan where he worked as a portrait painter before he sailed for Europe in 1841. While visiting in London, he saw an exhibition of George Catlin's paintings which showed the native tribes in the west facing radical cultural change. Kane was so inspired that he resolved to undertake his own expedition into the American West to depict the people and events of that time before the Indian frontier vanished. (left: Assiniboin Indians Running a Buffalo, oil on canvas, 18 x 29 inches, Stark Museum of Art, 31.78/231)

Returning to Canada in 1845, Kane secured the official support of the Hudson's Bay Company to travel westward by way of the company's system of trading posts. Accompanying a brigade of riverboats through the Great Lakes, he continued overland from Sault Sainte Marie to the Pacific coast, arriving at Fort Vancouver, British Columbia in December, 1846. Back in Toronto in the fall of 1848, Kane set to work producing over 100 large paintings of western subjects, many of which may be seen today at the Royal Ontario Museum. More than 200 of Kane's original studies in oil and watercolor are now owned by the Stark Museum of Art, along with his field notebooks or sketchbooks and the hand-written journal he kept during his travels. (right: Medicine Pipe Stem Dance, oil on paper, 9 3/4 x 12 1/4 inches, Stark Museum of Art, 31.78/148, POP 10)

Kane's journal served as the basis for the published narrative in Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America, which first appeared in London in 1859. Kane died in Toronto twelve years later. His reputation as a pioneering western artist was securely established.

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