Investigating the Painted Past
Painted by Mark Robert Harrison (1819-1893).
Oil on canvas, 1879.
Wisconsin Historical Museum object #1942.495.
The story behind the origin, intent, and even the name of Sioux Chiefs is a bit of a mystery. Nonetheless, its massive scale, intriguing composition, and colorful detail merit investigation.
Over the years the painting appears in various written sources under different names, but it has come to be known as "Sioux Chiefs at Little Big Horn," referring to the battle of June 25, 1876 regarded as "Custer's Last Stand." At the time of receipt, the Society referred to the painting as Indian Chiefs in Council.
Artist Mark Robert Harrison was born in England and settled in Fond du Lac. Harrison was known for elaborate, lighted dioramas and grandiose scene paintings with biblical themes. Late in his career he painted Native American subjects. Sioux Chiefs was donated to the Historical Society by his estate upon his death.
Investigate this painting by clicking on an image below.