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[Detail] Vue de Quebec, capitale du Canada. 1755.

Art: European Depictions of Native Americans

As early as the sixteenth century, artists’ portrayals of Native Americans were available in Europe. Among the first such portrayals were a series of 42 drawings of the Timucua Indians of Florida by artist Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues.

  • Describe what is happening in the picture, providing as much detail as possible.
  • Browse through other drawings by de Morgues and select two for closer analysis. For each, describe what is happening, providing as much detail as possible.
  • How did these pictures help Europeans of the time understand the Timucua Indians of Florida? How do these pictures help you understand the Timucua Indians of Florida?
  • Would you describe these pictures as sources of information, works of art, or both? Explain your answer.

Study the print, "Le Commerce que les Indiens du Mexique font avec les François au Port de Mississipi," by Jollain.  The Compagnie d’Occident (Company of the West) was responsible for populating Louisiana and insuring that the colony became profitable.  Jollain’s print is believed to have circulated as a means of enticing settlers to New Orleans. 

  • What inferences can be drawn about prospects for gaining wealth in New Orleans and along the Mississippi from Jollain’s print?
  • What techniques did the artist use to convey a colonial utopia along the Mississippi? How would you describe the artist’s technique?
  • How effective do you think this piece of art would be in promoting colonial settlement? Explain your answer.

Use the table of contents in Joseph- François Lafitau’s  "Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, Comparées aux Moeurs des Premiers Temps" to find drawings portraying Indians and comparing them to earlier Europeans.

  • Why do you think Europeans brought artists to North America?
  • How were Indians portrayed in the artwork you have examined?