Artwork Detail

The Abduction of Daniel Boone's Daughter by the Indians
American, b. Germany, 1828–1862
Oil on canvas
40 5/16 x 50 1/4 "
Gift of John T. Davis, Jr., 1954
WU 4335
A German-born immigrant to the United States, Charles Wimar painted The Abduction of Daniel Boone's Daughter by the Indians while working in Düsseldorf with the famed history painter Emmanuel Leutze. Fascinated by the American frontier, Wimar focused during this period on images of Native American conflicts with settlers, in particular the theme of captivity and abduction, as portrayed here. This theme appeared widely in the popular literature and visual arts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in which it was fashionable to mythologize the struggles of the frontier with exotic portrayals of the West and Native Americans. Wimar's painting, like others of the time, reinforces notions of Native Americans as savage and white settlers as cultivated and divinely ordained—a notion that helped justify white colonization of the West. Inspired by Daniel Bryan's epic poem The Mountain Muse, Wimar here depicted three natives seizing Jemima Boone as she picks wildflowers along the Kentucky River. Also drawing on traditional religious imagery, Wimar portrayed the captive young woman in the pose of a praying saint or martyr, further suggesting the piety and innocence of Christian Europeans and the aggressiveness and barbarity of Native Americans. [Permanent collection label, 2016]