Indian Dance at Amherstburg, c. 1825
William Bent Berczy
British, Canadian, 1791
oil on canvas
58.7 x 68.5 cm
Purchased 1990 with the assistance of a grant from the Government of Canada under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30860)
William Bent Berczy, eldest son of William Berczy, was apprenticed to his artist father and continued to paint for many years, although not professionally. This picture is one of his most ambitious known works. Executed while he was living in Amherstburgh, it shows a group of spectators watching a ceremonial Aboriginal dance on the shores of Elliott’s Point - a site that no longer exists. It is unlikely that the scene depicted actually took place. As was common at the time, the artist drew inspiration from observed customs and practices to create a composition whose verisimilitude he enhanced by giving it a real setting.