Prints are from The
Aboriginal Portfolio (1835-36, 39,
41) and are approximately 11.5" x 18.5" or
9.5" x 12" in size.
Deer Chippeway Chief
Elk Winnebago Chief
James Otto Lewis’ (1799-1858) The
Aboriginal Portfolio 1835-36,
represents the earliest attempt to publish a collection
of portraits of North American Indians and one
of the first large projects in American Lithography.
Lewis was an engraver and painter in Detroit in
1823 when Governor Cass of Michigan requested that
Lewis accompany him, as the official portraitist
of the U.S.Indian Bureau, on each of four important
treaty expeditions (1825-1827):of the Upper Great
1. In the Michigan Territory at Prarie
2. At Fond du Lac on the shore of Lake
3. At Butte des Morts near Green Bay.
4.In the Indiana Territory near Fort Wayne at the
mouth of the Massinewa River.
Lewis reportedly made some 250 portraits and camp
sketches from which he produced his groundbreaking
work. Many of Lewis’ paintings were acquired
by Colonel Thomas McKenny,(1785-1859) the U.S.
Superintendent of the Indian Trade and later head
of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for his famous ”Indian
Gallery”. The paintings were housed originally
in McKenny’s office on the second floor of
the old War Department Building and later in the
Smithsonian Institution...McKenny hired the noted
Washington painter Charles Bird King to copy the
Lewis paintings for his own publication The
Indian Tribes of North America 1836-44.