The Wounded Indian

Peter Stephenson1848/1850

Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk, United States

Peter Stephenson's heroic representation of a mortally wounded Indian ranks among the most beautiful and affecting works of American neoclassical sculpture. It directly reflects the increasing acceptance in mid-nineteenth-century America of the Indian as Noble Savage - a natural man uncorrupted by the influences of civilization and thus embodying an innate nobility and grace. At the same time, however, American Indians were being pushed further and further back into the frontier. Notably, the Indian here has been felled not by a bullet, but an arrow. This reflects the nineteenth-century belief that American Indians, as primitive people, were doomed whether white men bore arms against them or not. A precocious talent, Stephenson studied in Rome in the mid-1840s and then settled in Boston. While in Italy he surely encountered a variation of the Dying Gaul, the classical sculpture that served as inspiration for the pose of the Chrysler's sculpture. Stephenson exhibited The Wounded Indian at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition in London. His brief career ended with madness and his death at age thirty-seven, and surviving works by him are very rare.



  • Title: The Wounded Indian
  • Creator: Peter Stephenson
  • Creator Lifespan: 1823/1860
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Boston, MA
  • Creator Birth Place: Yorkshire, England
  • Date: 1848/1850
  • Location Created: Boston, MA, United States
  • Provenance: Mercantile Library, Boston, Mass., by 1856; James H. Ricau, Piermont, N.Y., by 1967; Gift of James H. Ricau and Chrysler Museum of Art Purchase, 1986.
  • Physical Dimensions: 35 1/8 x 59 x 31 in. (89.2 x 149.9 x 78.7 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of James H. Ricau and Museum purchase
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Medium: Marble

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