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“Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies” by John Mix Stanley

'Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies', oil on canvas painting by John Mix Stanley, 1845, Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington D. C.)

“Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies” by John Mix Stanley depicts the American West and the Native American life in a highly naturalistic depiction. Stanley was an artist-explorer, a painter of landscapes and Native American portraits and tribal life. Unfortunately, over 200 of Stanley’s paintings, which were being held at the Smithsonian were lost in an 1865 fire. This significant loss of most of his works makes this portrayal of the American West highly valued.

This painting is one his few surviving works, which reflects his sympathy and skills in depicting American Indian traditions. Stanley’s vision was to produce an atlas of the American Indian, but after the loss of most of his paintings the 1865 fire, he never completed it. He had also created a large collection of maps, which was held by the Smithsonian Institution, which, unfortunately, were also destroyed in the 1865 fire. We are fortunate to have this painting and can only imagine what could have been if Stanley’s paintings had not been lost.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies
  • Artist:               John Mix Stanley
  • Year:                 1845
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions    102.9 × 154.3 cm (40.5 × 60.7 in)
  • Museum:          Smithsonian American Art Museum

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:                    John Mix Stanley
  • Born:                     1814 – Canandaigua, New York
  • Died:                      1872 (aged 58) – Detroit, Michigan
  • Nationality:          American
  • Notable works:
    • Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies


“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” Claude Monet



Photo Credit: 1) By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “trish” [CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons