Shoshone Indians Rocky Mountains

Shoshone Indians

Description

About fifty years before Albert Bierstadt traveled through the Rocky Mountains in search of a pass for the Pacific Railroad, Lewis and Clark had already paved the way across the western territories. Over the five months of his first western journey, Bierstadt made many studies of both the scenery and Native American inhabitants of the land through which he was passing. The Shoshone Indians were one of the Native American tribes with whom Bierstadt made contact, as illustrated by a number of his works. Unlike many of his other paintings from this trek, namely the individual portraits of Native Americans, Bierstadt’s landscapes are laminated in a somewhat a blurry haze. This landscape in particular renders ambiguous the everyday life of the Shoshone tribe. Rather than a focused characterization of the Shoshone culture through individual portraits, Bierstadt portrays the tribe as synonymous with the natural landscape. This phenomena pervaded American culture at the time, and had the effect of lessening Native American peoples as synonymous with notions of the beastly, wild and uncivilized. 


However, what complicates this scene is that the famed Sacagawea was a Shoshone woman. Along with her French husband, Sacagawea was able to translate and communicate with the traveling artists, thus making their tribe particularly amenable to white men. This becomes particularly relevant as Sacagawea most likely interacted with Bierstadt.

MetaData

Dublin Core

Title

Shoshone Indians Rocky Mountains

Subject

Rocky Mountains, Bierstadt, painting

Description

About fifty years before Albert Bierstadt traveled through the Rocky Mountains in search of a pass for the Pacific Railroad, Lewis and Clark had already paved the way across the western territories. Over the five months of his first western journey, Bierstadt made many studies of both the scenery and Native American inhabitants of the land through which he was passing. The Shoshone Indians were one of the Native American tribes with whom Bierstadt made contact, as illustrated by a number of his works. Unlike many of his other paintings from this trek, namely the individual portraits of Native Americans, Bierstadt’s landscapes are laminated in a somewhat a blurry haze. This landscape in particular renders ambiguous the everyday life of the Shoshone tribe. Rather than a focused characterization of the Shoshone culture through individual portraits, Bierstadt portrays the tribe as synonymous with the natural landscape. This phenomena pervaded American culture at the time, and had the effect of lessening Native American peoples as synonymous with notions of the beastly, wild and uncivilized. 


However, what complicates this scene is that the famed Sacagawea was a Shoshone woman. Along with her French husband, Sacagawea was able to translate and communicate with the traveling artists, thus making their tribe particularly amenable to white men. This becomes particularly relevant as Sacagawea most likely interacted with Bierstadt.

Creator

Albert Bierstadt, American (born Germany), 1830-1902

Source

Rollins, Cornell Fine Arts Museum

Publisher

N/A

Date

1859

Contributor

Maya Geschwind

Rights

Public domain

Relation

Paintings and Sculpture

Format

5 x 7 5/16 in.

Language

En-US

Type

Painting

Identifier

1991.9

Coverage

Rocky Mountains

Alternative Title

Shoshone Indians

Date Created

February 25, 2018

Access Rights

Public domain

Medium

Oil and gouache on paper mounted on board

Bibliographic Citation

http://www.rollins.edu/cornell-fine-arts-museum/collection/american-art/american-19th-century-landscapes.html

Spatial Coverage

Rocky Mountains

Temporal Coverage

19th Century

Accrual Method

Gift of Samuel B. and Marion W. Lawrence

Audience

General Audience

Provenance

N/A

Rights Holder

http://www.rollins.edu/cornell-fine-arts-museum/education/index.html

Citation

Albert Bierstadt, American (born Germany), 1830-1902, “Shoshone Indians Rocky Mountains,” Park Culture, accessed March 8, 2021, http://parkculture.org/items/show/197.

Geolocation