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American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: William John Wilgus, American, 1819–1853
Subject: Ut-ha-wah, Captain Cold, Onondaga, ca. 1770–1845

Captain Cold, or Ut-ha-wah (Onondaga, ca. 1770–1845)


Oil on canvas

40 × 30 in. (101.6 × 76.2 cm)
de Lancey Kountze Collection, Gift of de Lancey Kountze, B.A. 1899
Ut-ha-wah—Onondaga chief of the Six Nations, or Iroquois, a confederacy also known as the Haudenosaunee—distinguished himself while fighting on the American side during the War of 1812. A three-year encounter between Great Britain and the United States, the war was fought primarily to secure Canadian and maritime territory. John Wilgus shows him in the classical stance of a military hero. However, Ut-ha-wah’s introspective gaze subverts the celebratory tone of the painting, giving it an elegiac feeling at odds with the pose. Ironically, portraits of American Indians became popular just as the subjects themselves “disappeared” following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which mandated their departure from their ancestral lands.
Made in New York City, New York, United States
On view
19th century

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 21, 49–50, no. 16, ill.

Laurence M. Hauptman, “They Also Served: American Indian Women in the War of 1812,” American Indian (2015): 44, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.