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Portraits of Tecumseh

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Surname/tag: Shawnee, Native Americans
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Information related to so-called portraits of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh

Portraits of Tecumseh

There are no known authenticated portraits of Tecumseh.

Benson Lossing's engraved portrait of Tecumseh in his 1868 The Pictorial Fieldbook of the War of 1812, (p. 283),[120][121] was based on a sketch done from life in 1808. Lossing altered the original by putting Tecumseh in a British uniform, under the mistaken (but widespread) belief that Tecumseh had been a British general.[122] This depiction is unusual in that it includes a nose ring, popular among the Shawnee at the time, but typically omitted in idealized depictions.[123] On the other hand, the artist quotes Captain J. B. Glegg as follows: "Three small silver crosses or coronets were suspended from the lower cartilage of his aquiline nose[...]".[121][124] (Tecumseh's brother "The Prophet" is depicted with a nose ring in Lossing's book[125]—as well as by George Catlin.) Apart from Tecumseh's "gala dress" (at a celebration of the Surrender of Detroit) Lossing referred to, also his face may not be rendered faithfully—no fully authenticated portrait of the Shawnee leader exists.[122] In general, many known portraits and sculptures have been made decades after Tecumseh's death, by artists unfamiliar with Tecumseh's actual appearance. See this Wikipedia profile.

The portrait published by Lossing was drawn in 1858, many years after Tecumseh's death in 1813, from pencil sketches made in 1808 by a french trader named Pierre Le Dru. The artist did not attempt to make a true likeness of Tecumseh or show him in clothing that Tecumseh would have ever worn. Lossing acknowledged that he did not have a true likeness created and had it modified according to his preferences.

The portrait presumably of Tecumseh wearing the black scarf was part of the Benjamin O'Fallon collection which was donated to the Chicago Natural History Museum by his daughter in 1894. She was the one who made the claim that she was not certain. Also, Tecumseh would not have worn the clothing shown in the portrait because it ran counter to the wishes of his god.[1]

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Info from Wikipedia on the last portrait: "In the 20th century, this painting was claimed to be a long-lost portrait of Tecumseh. It is probably not Tecumseh, but is possibly his son Paukeesaa." Sugden 1997, pp. 403–04 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_of_Tecumseh)
posted by Deborah (Carder) Mayes