Payouska (Pawhuska, c. 1752-1832), Chief of the Great Osage

Object Number: 
1860.92
Date: 
1804
Medium: 
Charcoal with stumping, Conté crayon, black pastel, and black and white chalk over graphite on pink prepared paper, nailed over canvas to a wooden strainer
Dimensions: 
Overall: 22 3/4 x 17 1/8 in. (57.8 x 43.5 cm)
Marks: 
Inscribed along left edge vertically in Conté crayon: "Payouska Chief of the Great Osage"; at lower center in graphite: "Payouska / Chef des Grands / Osages"; at middle right: "payouska / chef des Grands / Osages"
Inscriptions: 
Inscribed along left edge vertically in Conté crayon: "Payouska Chief of the Great Osage"; at lower center in graphite: "Payouska / Chef des Grands / Osages"; at middle right: "payouska / chef des Grands / Osages"
Description: 
Portrait
Gallery Label: 
A chief of the Osage tribe, his name "White Hair" refers to his Indian name which, loosely translated, means "white sunlight relfected from the head of an eagle at midday". In one battle Pawhuska did attempt to scalp an officer only to find he was wearing a wig. He kept this wig as a trophy and frequently wore it, although it eventually lost its white powdering. This is what he was wearing in this portrait of him in Washington D.C. in 1805. The officer's coat he is wearing was a gift of President Jefferson. Since the Osage men were so large, tradition has it they could not button these tunics. When they got home, they gave them to the women who adapted them to make wedding clothing. Consequently, surplus military coats were traded to the Osage. Some traditional Osage women still wear wedding dresses patterned on these early American military tunics.
Credit Line: 
Elizabeth DeMilt Fund
Provenance: 
Artist's family; purchased from Elias Dexter
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group