Portraiture in Indigenous London: Mohawks at the British Museum

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This essay considers an application to the British Museum by members of the 1775–76 Mohawk delegation in London “to copy the Portrait of one of the Indians who were here in the reign of Queen Anne.” The Mohawk visitors wished to consult a miniature representing one of their predecessors from the 1710 Haudenosaunee embassy (known in Britain as the “Four Kings”). The archival trace of the Mohawks’ request, published here for the first time, affirms the need for alternative accounts of Indigenous presence and spectatorship in this period. It pierces through the kinds of fiction to which Indigenous visitors to Britain had long given rise, invites consideration of the role of portraiture from an Indigenous perspective within the context of transatlantic diplomacy, and suggests more nuanced accounts of the British Museum as an institution at the heart of empire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Art
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 20 2022


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