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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.

Portrait of John Ridge

Artist: Charles Bird King (1785 - 1862)
Date: 1825
17 1/2 × 13 1/2 in. (44.5 × 34.3 cm)
Framed: 24 1/2 × 20 1/2 in.
Medium: Oil on panel
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2016.11
Inscriptions: verso, in black ink: [Inscription identifying sitter, date of portrait, and location of creation as Washington]
Signed: verso, in black ink: [Artist's signature]
Place Created:
Not on View
Accession Number: 2016.11
Provenanceto John Ridge [ca. 1802-1839] (the sitter), GA and Cherokee Nation, 1825; by descent to Sarah Northup Ridge [1804-1856] (his wife), Fayetteville, AR, 1839; to Flora Ridge Polson [1837-1876] (her daughter), 1856; to Flora Polson Hutchison [1867-?] (her daughter), 1876; to Edith Hutchison Duff (her daughter); by descent to James Warren Duff [1927-2003] (her son), Minnetonka, MN; by descent to Mary Grover (his wife), Minnetonka, MN, 2003; to (Christie’s, New York, NY), September 12, 2007, sale 1873, lot 5; purchased by William S. Reese, New Haven, CT, 2007; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2016
Label TextSkah-tle-loh-skee (Yellow Bird), also known as John Ridge (ca. 1802-1839), was a prominent leader and one of the first lawyers in the Cherokee Nation. Charles Bird King painted this portrait during Ridge’s appointment as secretary and advisor to a Creek delegation in Washington, DC.

Ridge’s European-American attire might appear unusual to viewers expecting Native Americans dressed in buckskin and feathers. King’s portrait, however, attests to the diversity among tribes and individuals. In the nineteenth century, European settlers called the Cherokee a “civilized tribe,” indicating their adoption of European dress and mannerisms. King posed his sitter at a desk with a document and pen in hand, referencing Ridge’s educational background and political career.