Worthington Whittredge (1820–1910)

Indian Encampment, c. 1870–76

Oil on canvas, 14 1/2 x 21 7/8 in. (36.8 x 55.6 cm). Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.151

A well-traveled, versatile, and successful painter, Worthington Whittredge produced many scenes of the American West during his long career. In the 1860s and 1870s, he made three trips to the Western plains and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and northern New Mexico. Unlike his contemporaries, who painted dramatic, monumental views of the mountainous frontier, Whittredge created intimate images of the terrain. This canvas pictures a group of Native Americans camped along a shallow stretch of the Platte River in Colorado, which flows toward the Rocky Mountains. The fresh green foliage suggests the bounty of late spring or early summer, and the entire landscape is bathed in a beneficent light. Although the artist was aware of the violent conflicts between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the region, his painting presents an indigenous community as peaceful dwellers in nature, at a safe remove from the presumably white viewer.

Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.