John Mix Stanley

John Mix Stanley was an American painter of landscapes, portraits and Native American life. He was born in Canandaigua, New York and orphaned at the age of 12. At age 14, Stanley became an apprentice to a coach maker. Looking for better work, he moved to west in 1832 and became a painter of signs and portraits. In spring 1843 Stanley accompanied the party of Indian agent Pierce M. Butler to the Tehuacana Creek Council. At the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1845, John Mix Stanley joined Colonel Stephen Watts Kearney’s expedition to California and produced many sketches and paintings of the campaign. He traveled to Hawaii in 1848 and spent a year painting portraits of members of the royal family. He traveled across the Isthmus of Panama in 1853. He also painted Comanche warriors in their natural environment. He moved to Detroit in 1864 and remained there for the rest of his life. Stanley helped to found a forerunner of the Detroit Institute of Arts and to incorporate the National Gallery and School of Arts.

Stanley’s primary interests and sympathies were with the Indians. The Smithsonian exhibited his pictures, but Congress never appropriated monies for them. More than 200 of his works were destroyed in the Smithsonian fire of 1865. The Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), the Arizona State University Art Museum (Tempe, Arizona), the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, NY), the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, Wyoming), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D. C.), the Denver Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art (Indianapolis, Indiana), the Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, Oklahoma), the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, Nebraska), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the National Gallery of Art, (Washington, D. C.), the National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson Hole, Wyoming), the National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D. C.), the Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, Arizona), the Rockwell Museum of Western Art (Corning, New York), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D. C.), the Stark Museum of Art (Orange, Texas), the University of Arizona Museum of Art (Tucson, Arizona), the Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art (Tuscaloosa, Alabama), the William L. Clements Library (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan), the Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, Maine) and the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Connecticut) are among the public collections holding works by John Mix Stanley.