The Cutting Scene, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony

The Cutting Scene, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony

George Catlin, American, 1796-1872
Born: Pennsylvania
United States
oil on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection

George Catlin, The Cutting Scene, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony, 1832. Oil on canvas; 22 7/8 x 27 1/2 in. William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection at the Denver Art Museum, 2001.456

image height: 22 7/8 in, 58.1025 cm; image width: 27 1/2 in, 69.8500 cm; frame height: 28 5/8 in, 72.7075 cm; frame width: 33 1/4 in, 84.4550 cm; frame depth: 2 in, 5.0800 cm
Signed at lower right
Petrie Institute of Western American Art
Petrie Institute of Western American Art
This object is currently on view

During the 1830s, George Catlin traveled by boat on the Missouri River to what is now North Dakota. There, chief Mató-Topé of the Mandan people allowed the artist access to their way of life and to the sacred Okipa (O-kee-pa), a multi-day ceremony meant to ensure the well-being of the people and to teach the virtue of selflessness. Although Catlin painted directly from his observations of the ceremony, he, like all Euro-American artists, could not have fully understood its meaning and significance.

En la década de 1830, George Catlin navegó por el río Misuri hasta la actual Dakota del Norte. Allí, el jefe Mató-Topé, del pueblo mandan, permitió al artista observar su diario vivir y el ritual sagrado de la okipa, una ceremonia de varios días con el fin de asegurar el bienestar del pueblo y enseñar la virtud de la abnegación. Aunque Catlin pintó a partir de sus observaciones directas de la ceremonia, ni él ni ningún artista euroamericano pudo haber entendido cabalmente su significado e importancia.


Known Provenance
Estate of Mr. Thomas Donaldson [1843–1898]; Bequeathed to The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1901; (David David, Inc.) Philadelphia, PA; William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen, Golden, CO, 1971; Gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2001.
Exhibition History
  • "George Catlin and his Indian Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum"—Smithsonian American Art Museum, 09/06/2002 - 01/19/2003
  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 02/07/2004 - 04/18/2004
  • Autry National Center of the American West, 05/09/2004 - 08/04/2004
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 09/19/2004 - 01/02/2005
  • Smithsonian Institution-National Museum of the American Indian, 02/26/2005 - 08/07/2005
  • "BackStory: Western American Art in Context"—History Colorado, 3/18/2017 - 2/11/2018