Tomo Chachi Mico of King of Yamacraw, and Tooanahowi his Nephew, Son to the Mico of the Etchitas.
OH: 14 1/4" x OW: 10 1/4"; Plate H: 13 7/8" x W: 9 3/4"
Black and white mezzotint engraving
Acc. No. 2004-42
The lower margin reads: "Tomo Chachi Mico or King of Yamacraw, and/ Tooanahowi his Nephew, Son to the Mico of the Etchitas./ W.m Verelst Pinxit/ John Faber Sculpsit"
Label:Just over a year after he arrived in the colony, Oglethorpe returned to England accompanied by a small delegation of Creek Indians, including chief Tomochichi and his nephew Tooanahowi. William Verelst painted a portrait of the chief and his nephew that was later engraved in mezzotint. It is possible that Oglethorpe may have also had his likeness taken at the same time.
Although the American Indians who accompanied Oglethorpe occasionally dressed in English garments while in London, Verelst chose to paint Tomochichi and Tooanahowi in their native garb. Otherwise, the composition confroms to traditional English baroque portraiture. The objects held by the Indians reflect their interests or background. Tomochichi's left hand rests on the shoulder of his nephew, while his right hand holds the deerskin cloak that wraps around him. Not only were deerskins an essential article of clothing, but they also formed the basis of the Creek's trade with Europeans. Tooanahowi holds an eagle, an American Indian symbol of peace, brought by the delegation as a gift to the king.
Oglethorpe chose to be depicted in a suit of armor, emphasizing his military background and reinforcing the defensive role against the Spanish that his colony assumed. The ermine cloak over his shoulders was indicative of his aristocratic upbringing. Given the close friendship that existed between Tomochichi and Oglethorpe and the possibility that the two men both sat for portraits during this trip, it is tempting to speculate whether a symbolic relationship exists between Tomochichi's deerskin and Oglethorpe's ermine cape.
Provenance:The Lower Creek chief, Tomo Chachi Mico welcomed and was helpful to the first Georgia settlers, and accompanied Gen. Oglethorpe on a trip to London in 1734. This portrait is based on a painting executed at that time by William Verelst. John Faber closely engraved the first print version of the portrait soon after.