Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle
Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle
Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle

Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train by Lawrence Earle

  • Important American painter Lawrence Carmichael Earle composed this exceptional genre scene
  • The original oil on canvas captures two Native American scouts in a vast landscape
  • In its use of color and light, the work is exemplary of the artist's naturalistic style
  • Such images were wildly popular for both American and European audiences in the mid-19th century
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Lawrence Carmichael Earle
1845-1921 | American

Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train

Signed and dated "L.C. Earle 73" (lower left)
Oil on canvas

The important American painter Lawrence Carmichael Earle composed this exceptional scene, which captures two Native American scouts in a vast landscape. The work is exemplary of the artist's naturalistic style, particularly in its subdued palette and remarkable contrasts of light and dark. While Earle's work ranged widely in terms of subject, his character studies such as this are among his most significant works. That it captures two Native Americans make it particularly important in the history of American art.

The earliest examples of Native Americans in early American art provide significant records of the characteristics and customs of native residents. Following controversial laws such as the Indian Relocation Act of 1830, however, artists' views of Native Americans transformed into more romantic renderings. Earle's Indian Scouts Observing a Wagon Train is an exceptional example of this later approach. The artist is less concerned with capturing the details of his subjects' tools and dress, instead placing them within a stunning American landscape scene with a compelling narrative. A wagon train in the distance is approaching the duo, while the presence of three horses rather than two suggests a third figure has gone to scout ahead.

Such images were wildly popular for both American and European audiences in the mid-19th century. The romanticized figure of the Native American emerged as an artistic personification of the country itself in its earthy beauty. Still, the history was a complicated one, and a series of wars between the nation and its native inhabitants took place between the 1850s and 1870s. Earle leaves his narrative ambiguous - the viewer, like the scouts, is uncertain if the approaching wagon train is friend or foe.

Born in New York in 1845, Lawrence Carmichael Earle was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and it was there where he received his earliest artistic training under Marinus Hartung. He later traveled to Munch, where he worked with members of the Royal Academy such as Ludwig Barth and Franz Wagner. His preference for a thick use of pigment and painterly style with a heavy impasto stems from this period, and came to characterize his distinctive style. Eventually returning to the New York area, he exhibited extensively throughout his lifetime, including at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, the Boston Art Club, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Dated 1873

Canvas: 20 1/4" high x 16 1/8" wide
Frame: 27 1/2" high x 23 1/2" wide
specifications
Period: 1816-1918
Origin:America
Subject:Western
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