Choosing of the Arrow

Artist: Henry Kirke Brown (American, Leyden, Massachusetts 1814–1886 Newburgh, New York)

Date: 1849

Geography: Made in United States

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: 22 x 11 3/8 x 5 5/8 in. (55.9 x 28.9 x 14.3 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Mia R. Taradash and Dorothy Schwartz Gifts, and Morris K. Jesup and Rogers Funds, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.405


In 1848 Brown earned a commission for a statuette "illustrative of Indian form and character" from the American Art-Union, a New York organization that distributed art to subscribers by annual lottery. Traveling to Michigan’s Mackinac Island, in Lake Huron, Brown was among the earliest sculptors to observe Native Americans firsthand, producing sculpted and drawn sketches (1990.46.2). This resulting statuette of a male nude reaching to draw an arrow from the quiver strapped to his back reveals an exacting realism, exemplified by the subtle handling of the figure’s ribcage and the ornamental topknot.