Originally featured in Points West magazine in Summer 2017
Henry Kirke Brown’s Choosing of the Arrow
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Whitney Western Art Museum recently purchased one of nine located casts of Henry Kirke Brown’s Choosing of the Arrow, the first bronze sculpture made in America. Only twenty were produced for the American Art-Union in 1849, and each exhibits slight variation, as Brown and his assistants worked on and finished them individually.
Though European in style, the sculpture was conceived as part of the artist’s personal quest for a uniquely American art based on American subjects. It stands, then, as an early and classicizing depiction of a Native American subject, and an important precedent for later depictions of American Indians in art. Choosing of the Arrow is therefore a strategic addition to the Center’s collection. It was also celebrated in the groundbreaking 2013–2014 exhibition, The American West in Bronze: 1850–1925 organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum.
Henry Kirke Brown (1814–1886). Choosing of the Arrow, 1849. Bronze, 22 x 5.5 inches. William E. Weiss Memorial Fund Purchase. 7.16.1
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