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Artist Charles Deas

Charles Deas lived from 1818 to 1867,
near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Winnebagos Indians Playing Checkers

Winnebagos Indians Playing Checkers

  • Game of checkers artist Charles Deas, a Mid 19th century American realist and representational artist whose oil paintings and water colors depicted motifs in genre, Native and Frontier life on the Great Plains.

  • Artist Charles Deas, grandson of the Revolutionary War leader, Ralph Izard, was exposed to art as a visitor at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art and in Sully’s studio, when he received his general education from John Sanderson.

  • In 1836, Charles Deas failed to gain entrance into West Point, but then he realized that the Hudson River outdoor life attracted him more than life as a cadet and spent the following two years at the National Academy in New York City where he focused on developing his artistic skills in a variety of subject matter such as figure drawing, human activity in genre painting, landscape and narrative paintings; many of these works he exhibited from 1838.

  • During a visit to Philadelphia in 1838, Deas became enthralled and motivated by Catlin’s exhibition of Native paintings and desired “to visit the scenes of Nature’s own children, to share the repast of the hunter and taste the wild excitement of frontier life.”

  • In 1840, artist Charles Deas left the East to visit his brother at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, only 10 years after Seth Eastman and from there he moved to the western border town of St. Louis in order to devote his talent to the pictorial representation of Native Americans, voyageurs and mountain folk; here he established himself in a permanent studio as his headquarters for his artistic endeavors.

  • The motifs of his sketches and paintings were a narrative commentary on the fate of the Native societies combined with their culture as depicted in the genre scenes of daily life; Deas also tried to show address issues related to the mixing of the cultures and the nature of everyone’s individual responsibility in certain matters.

  • During the winter of 1841 artist Charles Deas visited Fort Winnebago, Fort Snelling, St. Anthony’s Falls and the Sioux; there he created numerous sketches of Native activities such as the serene setting in the 1842 painting of the Winnebagos Indians Playing Checkers; in this representation, Deas displayed the quiet mood surrounding the checkers game through muted, somber tones in the background, but also by use of dramatic lighting to focus on the actual checkerboard and the two checkers players facing one another.

  • Charles Deas also found expression in frontier scenery…“In passing from lodge to lodge, the most extraordinary incidents presented themselves and in the stillness of the moonlit nights, the echoes of the Indian lover’s flute blended with the battle chant or the maiden’s shrill song.”

  • Two years later, Charles Deas traveled to the Pawnees, where he was nicknamed “Rocky Mountain” because he dressed “like a fur hunter” and would go where he pleased.

  • Deas possessed a winning personality that helped him to develop an association with the Native American people that he met and he came to understand their culture well; in fact, he had a flair for an entrance into a lodge so that the whole lodge would burst out into laughter.

  • Charles returned to New York City in 1847, but shortly afterwards he suffered a mental break down that affected his painting from that time on until his death.

  • It is likely that artist Charles Deas died in a mental facility somewhere in New York in 1867; despite his huge successes early in life from age 20, only a very few canvases have survived.

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DeerLake Online Store Items

Wonder Mugs Play checkers online, and enjoy drinking from this cool wonder mug.
When adding hot liquid, the colors of the mug will change, checkers cool.

Checkers is a two-player game, where one player is assigned white-chip checkers and the other red. The aim is to play checkers online, capture all of the other player's checkers or make them impossible to move.

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