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Sequoyah

Artist
Henry Inman, 28 Oct 1801 - 17 Jan 1846
Copy after
Charles Bird King, 26 Sep 1785 - 18 Mar 1862
Sitter
Sequoyah, c. 1770 - Aug 1843
Date
c. 1830
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 76.8 x 64.1 x 2.5cm (30 1/4 x 25 1/4 x 1")
Frame: 89.5 x 77.5 x 8.9cm (35 1/4 x 30 1/2 x 3 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
NPG.79.174
Culture
Sequoyah: Native American\American Indian\Southeastern\Cherokee
Exhibition Label
Born Cherokee town of Tuskegee, eastern Tennessee
Sequoyah, the son of a Cherokee chief’s daughter and a fur trader from Virginia, was a warrior and hunter and, some say, a silversmith. For twelve years he worked to devise a method of writing for the Cherokee language. His syllabary of eighty-five symbols representing vowel and consonant sounds was approved by the Cherokee chiefs in 1821. The simple utilitarian system made possible a rapid spread of literacy throughout the Cherokee nation. Medicine men set down ceremonies for healing, divination, war, and traditional ball games; missionaries translated hymns and the New Testament into the native language; and in 1828 the Cherokee Phoenix, a weekly bilingual newspaper, began publication at New Echota, Georgia.
The original portrait of Sequoyah, commissioned by Thomas McKenney and painted by Charles Bird King, was destroyed by the fire that swept through the Smithsonian Castle building in January 1865.
Provenance
Geoffrey B. Churchill, Wilbraham, Mass.; purchased 1979 NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 136