• Title: The Attack on an Emigrant Train
  • Creator: Charles Ferdinand Wimar
  • Creator Lifespan: 1828/1862
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Siegenberg, Germany
  • Date Created: 1856
  • Location: United States
  • Physical Dimensions: w200.8 x h139.9 (work)
  • Label Copy: In this painting a wagon train of American pioneers crossing the prairie is attacked by a group of Native Americans armed with tomahawks and bows and arrows; as the men in the first wagon take up arms to defend themselves, their comrades rush forward to join the fight. The Attack on an Emigrant Train was painted during the height of westward expansion in the United States (1840s - 1860s) and is very much a product of its time. Its dramatic staging of two cultures clashing reinforced the doctrine of Manifest Destiny - the belief that European Americans had a right and even a Christian duty to expand throughout the North American continent. According to this theory, Indians were literally an obstruction in the path of American progress. Here they are portrayed as ferocious aggressors arresting the forward movement of the peaceful immigrants. The white man's steady aim of his gun - taken up to protect women and children who take shelter in the wagonsÑis contrasted with the chaotic mass of half-clothed warriors armed with simple weapons. Images such as this reinforced the prevailing notion of the Native American as primitive, even savage, and perpetuated the idea they were another element of the untamed landscape that needed to be subdued and civilized. Wimar's painting became enormously influential, inspiring and establishing a stereotype of attacks on wagon trains that persisted well into the twentieth century.
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/musart/x-1895.8/1?lasttype=boolean;lastview=thumbnail;resnum=1;sel9=ic_exact;size=20;sort=relevance;start=1;subview=detail;view=entry;rgn1=musart_an;select1=ic_exact;q1=1895.8
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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