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Sydney Prior Hall (1842 - 1922)

Lot 269: McKenney, Thomas L., and James Hall History of the Indian Tribes

Sotheby's

December 13, 1995
New York, NY, US

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of North America. Philadelphia: Frederick W. Greenough, 1838 (vol. 1); Daniel Rice and James G. Clark, 1842-44 (vols. 2 & 3) 3 volumes, folio (20 1/8 x 14 1/8 in.; 511 x 359 mm). 117 handcolored lithographed portraits after C. B. King, 3 handcolored lithographed scenic frontispieces after Rindisbacher, leaf of lithographed maps and table, 17 pages of facsimile signatures of subscribers; minor soiling and light foxing, generally not affecting plates. Nineteenth-century half red morocco, spines gilt in seven compartments with American Indian motifs and gilt-lettered brown morocco spine labels, marbled boards, all edges gilt, by J. Wright; some wear. an exceptionally clean and bright set of mc kenney and hall"s renowned portraits of american indians. These portrait plates were based on oils by the government artist Charles Bird King, who was employed by the War Department to paint the portraits of Indian delegates visiting Washington, D. C., for the Department"s Indian Gallery. Most of King"s original paintings were subsequently destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian, and their appearance in McKenney and Hall"s magnificent work is thus our only record of the likenesses of many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the nineteenth century. McKenney was the first director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and he provided the biographies, many based on personal interviews, that accompany the portraits. Hall, an Illinois lawyer and journalist, wrote the long general essay on the history of the North American Indian. Both authors, not unlike George Catlin, saw their work as a way of preserving an accurate visual record of a rapidly disappearing culture. References: Bennett 79; Field 992; Howes M129; Lipperheide Mc4; Sabin 43410a.

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