National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Annual Bulletin 6, 1982-1983 

Annual Index
Author & Subject

William Berczy's Portraits of Joseph Brant

by Gloria Lesser

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8    


1 Refer to the following monographs: Milton Hamilton, "Joseph Brant: The Most Painted Indian: New York History, Vol. 39, No.2 (1958), pp. 119-133, and J .R. Fawcett Thompson "Thayendanegea the Mohawk and his Several Portraits: The Connoisseur, Vol. 170, No. 283 (1969), pp. 49-53.

2 Refer to Ruthven Todd, "The Imaginary Indian in Europe: Art in America, Vol. 60, No. 4 (1972), pp. 40-47, and Elwood Parry, The Image of the Indian and the Black Man in American Art: 1590-1900 (New York: 1974).

3 Refer to Hugh Honour, The European Vision of America (The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio: 1976) for decorative arts of this nature.

4 Robert C. Smith, The Noble savage: The American Indian in Art (University Museum, Philadelphia: 1958), n. p.

5 The author has relied upon Diamond Jenness' Indians of Canada (National Museum of Canada, 6th Edition. Bulletin 65, Anthropological Series No.15, 1932; rpt. Ottawa, Canada: 1967, Chapter 10), for information on the social organization of the Iroquois.

6 Le Moyne, a Huguenot colonist and settler in Aorida and artist to the French expedition, made drawings of Indians he had seen at the colony. He returned to London to prepare a manuscript of the short-lived Huguenot settlement. Aemish Théodore de Bry (1528-1598), and his sons engraved le Moyne's drawings for the second volume of a series of travels entitled les Grands Voyages and published at Frankfurt in 1591.

7 Thévet's two three-quarter portrait engravings, one of the King of Peru and one of the King of Mexico, show their heads facing the viewer. Their portraits were the first to have the double intention of presenting an Indian portrait, but especially the notion of a chief. See André Thévet, Les Vrais Portraits et Vies des Hommes Illustrés (1584; rpt. New York: Scholars' Facsimiles), Vol. 2, p. 641 and p. 644.

8 N. Jaye Frederickson and Sandra Gibb, The Covenant Chain: Indian Ceremonial and Trade silver (Ottawa: The National Museum of Man, 1980), p. 43. The author has depended upon this text to interpret the silver worn by Joseph Brant in his portraits.

9 John Verelst, an Anglo-Dutch artist, was a member of a family of Dutch artists, several of whom worked in England. He was probably the son of a flower painter, Cornelius Verelst .In his obituary he was described as a "noted face painter" in The Gentleman's Magazine. Numerous signed portraits by him dated between 1706 and 1734 have been recorded mainly in English country homes. Biography from Hugh Honour, cat, no.170.

10 - Translated literally, this means "Two-sticks-of-wood-bound-together: which denotes strength. Also, the name has been interpreted in the literature as "He-who-places-two-bets." It was general practice among the Indian tribes for a person to acquire a new name, or a nickname, at each of the important events of life. At birth, the name of an ancestor could be used, according to the white man's tradition, to preserve the continuity of the Indian's clan. A name could also be derived from a dream or other significant occurrence at the time of birth, or at the first indications of a special personality trait. Some Indians waited until a later age to name a child, such as at puberty, or after a war or hunting exploit, or after an elevation in tribal rank. As well, retirement from active participation in tribal life was deemed a propitious time. Many Indian names have an allegorical meaning which cannot be translated, so English spelling is phonetic, and never uniformly set down. This accounts for the various spellings for Brant's Indian name in the literature.

11 W. L. Morton, The Kingdom of Canada (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970), p. 167.

12 The main sources for biographical and historical information used in this article are: W. L. Stone, Life of Joseph Brant (1838: rpt. New York: Kraus, 1969); Marc. J. Smith, "Joseph Brant, Mohawk Statesman," Diss. The University of Wisconsin, 1946; and Robert S. Allen, 'The British Indian Department and the Frontier in North America: 1755-1830," Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaelogy and History, No. 14 (National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Parks Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs, Ottawa: 1975).

13 Smith, p. 5. For a summary of family tradition as understood by the Reverend John Stuart, Brant's friend and contemporary, as told to Brant's biographer, see Stone.

14 J. W. Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks (New York: 1938), p. 55.

15 Jenness states (p. 137) that Indian men confined their activities to hunting, fishing, trading, and war, leaving agriculture to women.

16 Several portions of the Bible had already been translated into Mohawk at that time, but Stuart felt that the New Testament should be translated, which Brant agreed to do. They translated the Gospel of Mark, part of the Acts of the Apostles, and a history of the Bible with a concise explanation of the Catechism. This text, The Book of Common Frayer Translated into the Mohawk by Joseph Brant (London: 1786-1787), was Illustrated by Lieutenant James Peachy (d. 1799), who was active in America from 1774-1797. Peachy was the English officer-surveyor attached to the Quebec office of the Surveyor-General of Canada, who worked along the St Lawrence River following the American Revolution. Peachy executed drawings of Joseph Brant's wife Katerine, and one is reproduced in Russel Harper's Early Fainters and Engravers in Canada (Great Britain: 1970), p. 246.

17 Allen, p. 101.

18 Allen, p. 101.

19 See Isaac Weld, Travels Through the States of North America, and the Provinces of Upper Canada, During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797 (London: I. Stockdale, 1799); Barry Lord, The History of Painting in Canada: Towards a People's Art (Toronto: NC Press, 1974), p. 84; and Heritage Kingston (Queen's University, 1973), pp. 40-41.

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