4b. – Video – Who
Kane Met There–
This video introduces
some of the questions around Kane’s artistic
motivation and speculates that he may have altered the look of some of
his subjects to please audiences.
myth of the “noble savage”
• field sketches
• primary and secondary sources
• understand the differences between primary and secondary sources
• recognize and avoid the use of stereotypes
research and demonstrate knowledge of First Nations and Métis people’s
analyze the effects of external labels on First Nations and Métis
• recognize factors that influence identity
• analyze materials for bias and stereotypes and replace these with accurate
Video Script: Whom Kane Met There (R/T: 1:56)
When Kane arrived at Manitoulin Island in July 1845, he was just in time
for a large annual gathering that included the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi
Kane noted in his log that there were some 1,850 people from these nations
in attendance, including many important leaders from around the Great Lakes.
Kane took this opportunity to sketch portraits of a number of them. However,
these portraits raise some questions about Kane’s artistic motivation
in his finished oil paintings.
For example, Kane’s field portrait of Aw-bon-waish-kum is virtually
identical to the version he painted when he was back in his studio, right
down to the feathers this Odawa leader wears in his hair and the two discs
around his neck. Kane’s studio painting of Aw-bon-waish-kum is even
reproduced in his published book, Wanderings of an Artist, where he is
described as a man of great ingenuity and judgment.
Some weeks before arriving on Manitoulin Island, Kane visited the Bruce
Peninsula, where he sketched and painted portraits of Wah-Pus, a leader
from Owen Sound
In his book, Kane describes Wah-pus as a Methodist convert. Among other
things, the Methodists frowned on exotic attire, but the opposite seems
true in the romanticized studio portrait painted of this man. Kane dressed
Wah-pus in an animal skin, loosely draped over the right shoulder with
muscles flexing in a dramatic profile.
But did Wah-pus really dress this way? Is it possible that Kane embellished
the look of this leader and his dress to make the painting more appealing
to the artistic tastes of the day?
A comparison between Kane’s other field and studio portraits raises
the possibility that he changed his subject’s appearance to please
his audience’s expectations. Proceed to 4d. View Portrait Transformation.