Carl Ferdinand Wimar (American, born Germany, 1828–1862),
Indians Stealing Horses
oil on canvas, 6 1/8 x 20 in.; 40.96 x 50.8 cm
Museum purchase, 1951.80
Most of Wimar’s career was devoted to the depiction of American Indians. Based in St. Louis, he traveled up the Missouri River in the 1850s, when the region was still a frontier. In his paintings the artist combined elements of his personal observation of Indian and frontier life with popular ideas about those subjects, and then filtered them through the conventions of his German academic training — they are both fact and fiction. In this dramatic composition, Wimar also drew upon classical precedents: the gesture of the upraised arm, the noble drape of the toga-like robe, and the rearing of the captured horse. Wimar’s paintings embody the myth of the West.