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Architectural Panel: Indians in a Camp

Probably y1860-1872
Origin: America, New York
Unframed: 12 3/4 x 28 1/4in. (32.4 x 71.8cm); Composition: 10 1/8 x 25 1/2in. (25.7 x 64.8cm); and Framed: 15 1/16 x 30 5/8 x 1 5/8in.
Oil on wood
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1977.110.1,2
A scene of Indians camped on a riverbank. They appear to be on a small peninsula, as two forks of the river flow on either side of them, joining at some point forward of the picture plane. At far L, a boulder juts into the river, with trees lining the bank beyond. The bank at far R bears two trees, neither with any leaves. The L tree is draped with a red-leafed vine, the distance is thick with foliage. The peninsula is thick with trees and foliage beyond the encampment except that the river bank, visible at R, is not grown up; a buck deer cavorts here at the water's edge. There are two tipis at R, which each consist of a skeleton of tree limbs with coverings drawn together beneath them; the fore tipi has a patch hole (to lt smoke escape?). Some poles lean against the fore tipi, and in front of it stand two Indians, a woman (?) with a basket on her back and a child beside her. To the L of the two tipis is a hastily erected refuge consisting of skins thrown over vertical poles, open on the fore side so the viewer can see four Indians beneath the cover inside. A canoe is beached beside them. An unpainted border about 1 1/4-inches wide has been left all around the scene; the panel is rabbetted on the reverse. A build-up of paint at the edges of the painted section seems to indicate that the panel was painted while in place, i.e., while held in place by its architectural framing.
The 2 1/2-inch, white painted, cyma reversa frame is a modern addition.
Label:Hidley earned about a dollar a day graining and marbleizing interior woodwork and painting scenes in homes in and around Poestenkill, New York. His scenes, often adapted from contemporary prints, included European landscapes, Hudson River views, Biblical stories, and flower pictures. Hidley appears to have adapted this Indian encampment from the frontispiece to Nathaniel P. Willis's CANADIAN SCENERY, published in 1842 in London; the published image, titled "Wigwam in the Forest," was drawn by William Henry Bartlett and engraved by J. Cousen.
The scenic panel was once fitted into the architectural framework within a house, but the structure has not been identified.



Provenance:Walton (AARFAM's vendor) said the panel came from an upper NY state home but gave no details (letter of 10-11-1976).