Page 69b3113 Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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Great First People's Heritage Treasure
Opothle Yaholo (detail) - Charles Bird King c 1820 Opothle Yaholo (detail) - Charles Bird King c 1820
Orig. black & white litho 1838 - Size - 14" x 20"
Pub. McKenney & Hall, 1838 folio
Orig. hand-coloured litho 1872 - Size - 14" x 20"
Pub. & hand-painted McKenney & Hall, 1872 octavo
This set shows an original lithograph as it was printed in black and white. It would then be given to the colourist to paint in, before being bound in books. These original prints often have the binding holes along the right margin as does the Joseph Brant litho above. Note compare the 1838 (first edition) original print with the later one from the 1872 edition. The foundation black and white drawing is quite different - note the face especially. Differences between other editions are noted below.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The most fabulous set of American Indian portraits ever produced were the original hand coloured lithographs issued by McKenney & Hall between 1837 and 1844.

Go to Charles Bird King

They were all based on original paintings of important Indians of the early 19th century, who were painted by leading artists of the period, especially Charles Bird King.

Go to McKenney & Hall

To make them more widely available they were converted into coloured lithographs and bound in books.

These book sets today sell for 20 to $30,000 US. Books are often disbound and the lithographs sold individually.

The lithographs were issued several times, by different lithographers between the 1840s and 1880s. Other sets were issued in the 20th century. So you must be careful to make yourself knowledgeable about from which set you are buying, as they vary in different ways.

Three chiefs with a strong Canadian connection were produced. This is famed Canadian Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant or Thayendanegea.

Below his eye magnified to show no uniform pattern of dots found in in later photomechanical reproductions.


Hand-coloured Lithograph, (detail) Thayendanegea - Joseph Brant
Painter - George Catlin/Ezra Ames c 1820
Orig. hand-coloured lithograph 1848 - Size - 18 x 26 cm
Found - New York, NY
Pub. McKenney & Hall, 1848 octavo


Original Prints (Hand-coloured Lithographs) - Originals & Repros 13

1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20

The McKenney & Hall Indian Portraits 1837-1844

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

 

The McKenney and Hall prints were issued in octavo (small 8 x 10) and folio (large 14 x 20") sizes.

Ahyouwaighs, original 1838 folio left; later octavo print from an 1855 edition above.


Hand-coloured Lithograph, Ahyouwaighs (Robert Brant) - 1838
Orig. hand-coloured lithograph - Size - 34 x 50 cm
Found - Franklin, TN
Pub. McKenney & Hall, FW Greenaugh, Phila, 1838 folio
Drawn, Printed, Coloured - JT Bowens

These examples show the different sizings of the figure within the frame of the octavo and folio prints. Though the portrait has less margin in the octavo, the figure in the folio prints, is still larger since a folio sheet has almost four times the surface area of the octavo.

Note the ragged edges in both - a possible way to prove they're authentic - that show they were disbound from books . Unfortunately most of these valuable books have been ripped apart by antique dealers because they can make far more money selling individual prints than selling a book whole. The traditional lie they use to excuse this high end vandalism is that "the book was in very bad condition and to save it from destruction, we are salvaging the prints individually to preserve them."

Often these edges are cut off by dealers trying to make them look more acceptable to average buyers who don't know valuation in antique prints.

Note the variation above in even the basic re-drawing of the black and white portrait. The artist has mostly stayed true to the original he was copying from but made changes to fabric folds, shadows, and most noticeably, cut off the arms differently.

But in essential and exotic detail - note the spectacular earrings - the copying is perfect.

The colour palette that was used is also different. Note the difference in coat, sash, and the buttons.

By tilting the paper against the light you can tell where the paint has been applied.

You must beware - later copies had no hand colouring at all, but were either chromolithographs (check for irregular dotting from a litho stone) or photomechanically reproduced (check for dots.)

Note the ghosting that is often present on the earlier 1830s prints, from the type bleeding through over the decades. The 1836 print has quite a bit; the 1855, virtually none. By looking diligently you can find prints with lots, little, or no ghosting at all.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Go to Tecumseh Litho

Another Indian with a Canadian connection is Tenskwautawaw, brother of famed Chief Tecumseh, who was killed in 1813 while fighting to hold back an American invasion of Canada.

Go to The War of 1812

Tecumseh's brother, the Prophet, survived the wars long enough to be painted from life by Charles Bird King in the 1830s.

These two prints give a great comparison of how the lithographs were changed from those first produced in 1838-1842 left, to the later ones like that from 1872 right.

Note big changes in: headdress, ear, facial frowns, furry ruff on collar...


Hand-coloured Lithograph, Tenskwautawaw - The Prophet
Orig. hand-coloured lithograph 1838 - Size - 37 x 51 cm
Found - Franklin, TN
Pub - McKenney & Hall, Daniel Rice & James G Clark, Phila 1838









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