The Choosing of the Arrow
1848, cast 1849
21 1/4 in.
Base: x 6 1/4 x 5 1/2 in.
22 [lifetime cast]
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Purchase with funds from the Ruth Carter Stevenson Acquisitions Endowment
Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American ArtOctober 7, 2017–January 7, 2018
Wild Spaces, Open Seasons brings together iconic works that explore outdoor subjects from the early 19th century to World War II, exploring American artists’ fascination with depicting a communion with nature that was receding in the face of industrialization.
How do works of art help us understand the lives of people of different times, places, and cultures?
What process might an artist follow in creating a bronze sculpture?
How do physical items like clothes and accessories, or physical aspects like facial expression and pose, convey a message to the viewer?
In what ways is the use of an image of a single person inadequate to represent a larger group?
Tell me about the man that you see in this sculpture. How would you describe the figure?
What is this man holding? What might he be doing? This sculpture’s title is The Choosing of the Arrow. He is holding the tools of a hunter—his left hand grips the bow, while his right hand reaches for an arrow.
What might we infer about him based on his body position, facial expression, or hairstyle?
What time period or culture do you think the artist was thinking of when sculpting this figure?
Brown was influenced by classical sculptures of ancient Greece and Rome. The figure depicted is of a young Native American, though he is posed as a young Apollo (a Greek god) preparing for the hunt. Before making this sculpture, Brown traveled to Mackinac Island on Lake Huron to make studies of the Ottawa and Ojibwe people there.
Does the sculpture look more like a real person or an idealized sculpture? What, if anything, did Brown take from his encounter with the Ottawa and Ojibwe in the making of this work? Who do you think was the artist’s target audience? Do you think the sculpture might have been made differently if he’d had a different audience in mind?
What information about this figure did the artist leave out? How might the sculpture have been made differently if it was created by a member of the Ottawa or Ojibwe tribes?
What material did the artist use to create this sculpture?
How does bronze casting compare to other sculptural processes? Brown’s artwork, commissioned in 1848 by the American Art-Union, was completed in 1849 and is one of the very first bronze sculptures cast in the United States.
Have students research various early American artists’ portrayals of Native Americans in sculpture. As a class, discuss the similarities and differences.
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