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Pocahontas and John Smith

Victor Nehlig (1830–1909), Pocahontas and John Smith, 1870, oil on canvas, 90 1/2 x 76 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Dixon Limited (Dean Larson).

VICTOR NEHLIG (1830–1909)

Nehlig, a Frenchman, received his art training in Paris. While living in the United States, he painted the mythic American episode of the Indian maiden Pocahontas saving the life of the Englishman John Smith in the early 1600s. Nehlig recorded this event over 250 years later. At the top of his composition, he portrays Chief Powhatan wearing a 19th-century Plains Indian hide shirt. This use of clothing from the wrong historical moment reflects and promotes the Anglo-American tendency to think of Native peoples as unchanging.

Curricular Resources

The MOA has created suggested discussion prompts and assignments for BYU CIV faculty and students to use. Each assignment is based on themes that correspond with GE learning outcomes.

View Curricular Resources Related to This Work:
Native American Concerns