Auctions | May 25, 2021

“The Aboriginal Port Folio,” Set of 80 Hand-Colored Lithographs, to be Auctioned

Courteys of Nate D. Sanders

Hand-colored lithographs from American painter James Otto Lewis' “The Aboriginial Port Folio.”

Los Angeles – American painter James Otto Lewis' set of 80 hand-colored lithographs of “The Aboriginial Port Folio” will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders on May 27. Interested bidders may participate in the auction online. 

Native American visual chronicler James Otto Lewis traveled to various treaty ceremonies during the early 19th century and produced lasting portraits of Native American leaders and of their customs. Lewis was the first to create such artwork, preceding McKenney & Hall by several years.

After painting portraits of members from the Sioux, Potawatomi, Winnebago, Fox, Shawnee, Miami, and Iowa tribes, Lewis brought his paintings to Philadelphia for lithography, releasing them by subscription in 10 installments of 8 lithographs apiece. Each installment grew more scarce as subscriptions trailed off with the impending publication of the more comprehensive (and more formally posed) ''History of the Indian Tribes of North America'' by McKenney & Hall, whose portrait artist Charles Bird King even copied some of Lewis' paintings. As a result, the full collection of 80 lithographs of ''The Aboriginal Port Folio'' is so scarce that only five to ten copies are known to exist. To make matters worse, Lewis' original paintings were destroyed in the Smithsonian fire in 1865.

Bidding on the lithograph set begins at $180,000. Additional information on the lithographs can be found at