switch views:
  • view lightbox
  • view single item
  • view list

Worthington Whittredge

Born: 1820, Springfield, Ohio, United States of America
Died: 1910, Summit, New Jersey, United States of America

Indian Encampment
between 1870 and 1876

Oil on canvas
Image: 14 1/2 x 21 7/8 in. (36.8 x 55.6 cm)
Frame: 23 5/8 x 30 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. (60.0 x 78.1 x 9.5 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.151
Signed: Lower left: W. Whittredge.
Artist Name: []

Interpretation

Worthington Whittredge’s Indian Encampment likely pictures a scene on the Platte or Cache le Poudre Rivers of Colorado, the subjects of other works by the artist. Although Whittredge was aware of violent conflict between Native Americans and encroaching white settlers in the region, this painting presents Indians engaged in domestic activity, as peaceful dwellers in nature—and at a safe remove from the presumably white viewer. Whittredge’s composition progresses gently from near to distant elements, the shallow, meandering stream leading the eye toward a gap in the foothills beneath faraway snow-capped mountains. The fresh greens of the foliage suggest the bounty of late spring or early summer, and the entire landscape is bathed in a beneficent light. The image seems a straightforward, factual record of exotic life and topography on America’s frontier. But it also subtly invites us to access, even exploit, the land in which the native inhabitants coexist harmoniously with nature.

In 1866, 1870, and 1871, Whittredge made three trips to the American West, where he was deeply impressed by the landscape. However, unlike such contemporaries as Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) and Thomas Moran, who pictured the sublime drama of the Rockies’ soaring peaks in monumental works, Whittredge preferred to paint the plains on a more intimate scale, with the mountains a distant backdrop. The panoramic horizontality of this composition, with its static bands of water, trees, mountains, and sky, along with the use of pervading light both to unite the scene and to emphasize its calm, are characteristic of luminism, a trend in late-nineteenth-century American landscape painting that more typically favored the flat scenery of coastal New England in its exaltation of peaceful nature as a refuge from the horrors of civil conflict. Whittredge’s shift toward such concerns is evident in his paintings dated between 1870 and 1876, suggesting that Indian Encampment was painted after his second or third Western trip, probably in the artist’s New York studio from sketches made on site.

Return to top

Provenance

The artist
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa, Jr. (son of John Philip Sousa)
Jane Priscilla Sousa Gillon, c. 1960 (daughter of John Philip Sousa, Jr.)
Descended in family
Mr. & Mrs. J. William Middendorf
Mr. & Mrs. Bronson Trevor
Wunderlich & Company, Inc., by 1986
Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, after 1989
Daniel J. Terra Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1994
Terra Foundation of the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1999

Return to top

Exhibition History

Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1954.

For the Collector: Selected American Paintings of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Wunderlich & Company, Inc., New York, New York (organizer). Venue: Wunderlich & Company, New York, New York, November 11–December 31, 1986, as Indian Camp on the Platte River. [exh. cat.]

Visions of a Nation: Exploring Identity through American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, August 10, 1996–January 12, 1997.

Collection Cameo, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, October 1997.

Rivières et rivages: les artistes américains, 1850–1900 (Waves and Waterways: American Perspectives, 1850–1900), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–October 31, 2000. [exh. cat.]

Selections from the Permanent Collection: Two Centuries of American Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, March 10–July 1, 2001.

America the Beautiful: Landscapes from Home, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, October 16, 2001–January 13, 2002.

A Place on the Avenue: Terra Museum of American Art Celebrates 15 Years in Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 16, 2002–February 16, 2003.

Deux collections en regard: oeuvres de la Terra Foundation for the Arts et du Detroit Institute of Arts (Side by Side: Works from the Terra Foundation for the Arts and the Detroit Institute of Arts), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, March 2–June 1, 2003. [exh. cat.]

Copley to Cassatt: Masterworks from the Terra Collection, New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut and Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, September 5–December 7, 2003.

Highlights from the Collection of the Terra Foundation for the Arts, Union League Club of Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Union League Club of Chicago, Illinois, July 20–October 31, 2004. [exh. cat.]

Expanded Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, April 15, 2005–June 8, 2009.

Expanding Horizons: American and Canadian Painting and Photography, 1860-1918, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada (organizer), Venues: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada, June 18–September 27, 2009; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, October 17, 2009–January 17, 2010. [exh. cat.]

Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, February 2010–May 2011.

Galleries of American Art with Loans from the Terra Foundation for American Art Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, February 2012–May 2015.

Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic, Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois, in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada and Pinacoteca de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (organizers). Venues: Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, June 20–September 7, 2015; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, November 6, 2015–January 18, 2016, Pinacoteca de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, February 27–May 29, 2016. [exh. cat.]

Return to top

Published References

The Kennedy Quarterly 5, no. 3 (May 1965): 164–165. Text p. 165, ill. cover (color, as Indian Camp on the Platte).

For the Collector: Selected American Paintings of the 19th and 20th Centuries. (exh. cat., Wunderlich & Company, Inc.). New York: Wunderlich & Company, Inc., 1986. Text p. 10; ill. p. 10, cat. no. 7 (black & white, as Indian Camp on the Platte River).

Janson, Anthony F. Worthington Whittredge. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Text pp. 127, 140; ill. pl. IX (color, as Indian Encampment on the Platte (II)).

Indian Encampment, Worthington Whittredge. Collection Cameo sheet, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, October 1997. Ill. (black & white).

Cartwright, Derrick R. Waves and Waterways: American Perspectives, 1850–1900. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2000. Text p. 28 (checklist); ill. p. 8 (color).

Cartwright, Derrick R. Rivières et rivages: les artistes américains, 1850–1900. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2000. Text p. 28 (checklist); ill. p. 8 (color).

Highlights from the Collection of the Terra Foundation for the Arts (exh. cat., Union League Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois). Chicago: Union League Club of Chicago, 2004. Ill. (color).

Goldfarb, Hilliard T., ed. Expanding Horizons: Painting and Photography of American and Canadian Landscapes, 1860-1918. (exh. cat., Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). Montreal: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and SOMOGY Art Publishers, 2009. Text pp. 116, 314 (checklist); ill. p. 116, no. 60 (color).

Brownlee, Peter John, Valéria Piccoli, and Georgiana Uhlyarik, eds. Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic. (exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and the Terra Foundation for American Art). Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery of Ontario in association with Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2015. Ill. p. 99 (color).

Brownlee, Peter John, Valéria Piccoli, and Georgiana Uhlyarik, eds. Paisaje en las Américas: Pinturas desde la Tierra del Fuego al Artico. (exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and the Terra Foundation for American Art). Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery of Ontario in association with Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2015. Ill. p. 99 (color).

Brownlee, Peter John, Valéria Piccoli, and Georgiana Uhlyarik, eds. Paisagem nas Américas: Pinturas da Terra do Fogo ao Artico. (exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and the Terra Foundation for American Art). Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery of Ontario in association with Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2015. Ill. p. 99 (color).

Dobryzynkski, Judith H. “’Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic’ Review.” The Wall Street Journal (December 28, 2015).

Return to top

Sign on