George Catlin at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is one of those places in London where I don’t normally think of when deciding to go to an art exhibit, but everytime I go I really enjoy it there. My husband and I already saw the much-hyped, and excellent May Ray exhibit, which is still showing until the end of this month. Then yesterday we stopped in again and this time ended up in the free exhibit on George Catlin’s American Indian portraits. George Catlin, who was from Pennsylvania, traveled to the Western US in the 1830s-1840s and painted portraits of the different tribes he encountered. One interesting piece of information was he found a tribe which is in present-day North Dakota. This tribe had paler skin and some had blue eyes. His theory is that they were descendents of a mythical Welsh settlement from the 1100s. This settlement is indeed mythical, as archeologists deny this settlement existed.

So, I didn’t have any expectations, and I really loved the portraits. Of course, I might be biased. I studied American Indian cultures and history for awhile. Even so, I recommend it to anyone who happens to be in central London and wants to check out a free exhibition. Besides, right outside is that controversial portrait of Kate Middleton, which you can see for yourself. I honestly don’t think it’s that bad.

an Indian woman from the North Dakotan tribe thought to descended from ancient Welsh settlers.

Head Chief of the Blackfoot Tribe

The George Catlin exhibit runs until 23 June.

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