Indian Reservation by Thomas Worthington Whittredge

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Indian Reservation by Thomas Worthington Whittredge

Painting NameIndian Reservation
Painter NameThomas Worthington Whittredge
Completion Date1870
Size76.2 x 38.1 cm (30" x 15")
TechniqueOil
MaterialCanvas
Current LocationPrivate collection

The American artist from late 19th century was one of the Hudson River school students. During his journeys to Great Plains and Rocky Mountains in 1865, he got thoroughly impressed by the lands of the Great Plains. Even more impressed than the Rocky Mountains. The reason he described in his autobiography was vastness, silence, innocence and primitive existence of the place which was remained untouched by the urban developments.

That affection and the love for the open grounds are finely depicted on the canvas with oil. The scene represents an open ground of the Indian Reservation in which the tribal Indians of America are living.

The scene comprises of elements contemporary to the artist’s time. The native horsemen are returning to their huts in the bright, hot afternoon. The scene may signify the helplessness of the tribe. They were helpless against the ‘whites’ who were actually taking their lands over and giving them a mere portion of the land as an allocation.

Actually, when the ‘whitemen’ including the whitemen of government of the era began to acquire the whole land of America, the Native Indians were the big barricades on their ways preventing them from easily acquiring the lands. The natives rebelled aggressively. They were actually fighting for their rights by attacking on whitemen. Because, for so many years they were living there, eating there. Actually, the whole lives of such tribes were dependent on the open fields because they would hunt down the animals which inhibit on those grounds, for food. In a way, those lands, those surroundings were the homelands of the American Indians.

And now, this sudden attack of the whites to win over their lands was a big threat for all the native communities.

But sad end of the story is that they were not able to win. They couldn’t win against the big, armed government. So, when government acquired the lands they began to give some reserved lands to the natives to ‘justify’ the situation.

I see the powerless, helpless and suppressed Native Americans in the picture, suggestively returning to their homes.

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