Collections › MESDA Collection › “Mistippee, Yoholo-Micco’s Son”

“Mistippee, Yoholo-Micco’s Son”

Artist/Maker:
King, Charles Bird
Place Made:
Washington District of Columbia United States of America
Date Made:
1825
Medium:
oil on canvas
Dimensions:
HOA: 17 1/4″; WOA: 13 3/4″
Accession Number:
3542 (2465)
Description:
SITTER: In late 1825 a delegation of Creek headmen visited Washington, D.C., in an attempt to renegotiate the Treaty of Indian Springs. That treaty, negotiated by Tuntunnugee Hutkee (also called William McIntosh) (1775-1825), sold more than five-million acres of communal Creek land in what is now Georgia.

Among the delegates were Yoholo Micco and his son Mistippee. Yoholo Micco was the principal chief of Eufaula, an Upper Creek Town located on the Tallapoosa River. According to McKenney, his name was the result of, “(his) parents… having decided on rearing him after the fashions of their white neighbors, bestowed upon him the very ancient and respectable appellation of Benjamin, from which soon arose the usual abbreviation of Ben and Benny, which the young chief bore during the halcyon days of infancy. To this familiar name, respect for his family soon prefixed the title of Mr.; and, in the mouths of the Indians, Mr. Ben soon became Mistiben, and finally Mistippee the original Benjamin being lost in the superior euphony of that very harmonious word mister.”

Though the delegation succeeded in renegotiating aspects of the Treaty of Indian Springs, they could not forestall eventual white encroachment on their lands. Under Andrew Jackson the Creek were moved west to Oklahoma. During that journey many died, including Yoholo-Micco, Mistippee’s father.

For more information on the Treaty of Indian Springs and the 1825-1826 Creek Delegation to Washington see: Kathryn Braund, “McKenney and Hall Portrait Gallery: Creek Treaty Delegation to Washington, 1825-1826”, Auburn University, http://www.cla.auburn.edu/cah/assets/File/McKenney%20and%20Hall%20Booklet.pdf

During the nineteenth century native tribes routinely sent delegations to Washington, D.C., to negotiate with the American government. In 1816 Thomas Lorraine McKenney (1785-1859) was appointed the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. McKenney was eager to record the delegations and their distinctive dress for posterity. He engaged artists such as Charles Bird King (1785-1862), James Otto Lewis (1799-1858), and George Cooke (1793-1849) to paint portraits of these visitors to Washington.

President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was critical of McKenney and his sympathetic treatment of America’s native peoples. In 1830 he removed McKenney from office. Following his dismissal McKenney arranged to have the portraits secretly copied by the artist Henry Inman (1801-1846) and taken to Philadelphia for engraving. McKenney partnered with the author James Hall (1793-1868) and the first volume of “History of the Indian Tribes of North America” was published in 1836. Two more folio-sized volumes would follow.

Eventually the original portraits by King, Lewis, and Cooke, were be deposited in the Smithsonian Institution. A fire at the Smithsonian in 1865 destroyed the vast majority of the original works on which McKenney and Hall’s prints were based.

ARTIST: Charles Bird King (1785-1862) was born in Newport, Rhode Island to Deborah (Bird) King (1758-1819) and Captain Zebulon King (1750-1789). As a young child his family moved west to Ohio. Following his father’s death by scalping, the family returned east to Newport. King showed an early aptitude for painting and received encouragement from some of the best artists of his day. Educated in Newport, he was a classmate of Washington Allston (1779-1843), who along with Samuel King (1749-1819) and miniaturist Edward Malbone (1777-1807), encouraged and instructed King.

By 1800 he was apprenticed to the New York City artist Edward Savage. King worked in Savage’s studio until he left for England in 1806. He was to spend seven years in London, where he roomed with Samuel L. Waldo (1783-1861) who had accompanied him to England. In London he studied with Benjamin West (1738-1820) at the Royal Academy. Upon Waldo’s return to America, King moved to a new residence with Thomas Sully (1783-1872) with whom he had a lifelong friendship. In 1811 Washington Allston, Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872), and Charles Robert Leslie (1794-1859) joined King in London where they studied together until King returned to the United States in 1812.

After his return to America, King worked unsuccessfully for four years in Philadelphia. He moved to Richmond, Baltimore, and finally Washington, D.C., in 1816, and remained there until he died in 1862. King’s surviving trompe l’oeil still life paintings show his great talent as an artist, though his bread-and-butter was portraiture. Washington, D.C. with its steady stream of elected officials and government visitors, guaranteed a steady source of patrons.

King is best known for his portraits of Native American visitors to Washington commissioned by the Department of War and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. King began painting visiting native delegations 1821 and continued for two decades until a change in administration brought the ongoing commission to a close.

RELATED OBJECTS: RELATED OBJECTS: MESDA owns a copies of the McKenney and Hall print after this portrait (MESDA acc. 5507.1) as well as a copy of the print of his father, Yoholo-Mico (5507.2).

MESDA has two works by King: A portrait of Congressman Henry St. George Tucker (MESDA acc. 966.1) and a portrait of Mistipee, Yoholo Mico’s Son (MESDA acc. 3542).

DESCRIPTION: Painting, oil on canvas backed with panel, of Indian boy standing three-quarters length. He leans his right elbow on a moss-covered rock, his face is painted with a pattern of red and blue dots. He is dressed with a white shirt, brown jacket and long white coat embellished with yellow lines and red and blue trim, and wears an ornamental red pouch and sash. He holds a bow and arrows in his right hand. A landscape is in the background.

History:
This painting was given by the artist to the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island. It was later deaccessioned by the Redwood Library and subsequently acquired by MESDA.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James W. Douglas