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Chief Joseph

Cyrenius Hall, 20 Mar 1830 - 1904
Chief Joseph, c. 1840 - 21 Sep 1904
Jun 1878
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 55.9 x 46 x 2.5cm (22 x 18 1/8 x 1")
Frame: 67.6 x 57.2 x 7cm (26 5/8 x 22 1/2 x 2 3/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
Chief Joseph came to embody for many the tragic plight of Native Americans during the second half of the nineteenth century. His resistance to government efforts to move the Nez Percé people to a reservation drew anger from U.S. authorities, but also prompted widespread sympathy from many Americans. When troops were called in to speed the removal process in 1877, Joseph and 800 of his followers began a strategic retreat, seeking safety first among allied tribes in Montana and then heading toward Canada. Only thirty miles from the border, a command led by General Nelson Miles intercepted this band and forced Joseph to surrender. For the next eight years Joseph was imprisoned at several sites, including Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. It was there that artist Cyrenius Hall created this painting of the dispirited leader.
(Victor D. Spark, New York); purchased 1968 NPG.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 123
United States\Kansas\Leavenworth\Fort Leavenworth