SUDBURY, Mass. – The so-called “Four Indian Kings” were not the first native Americans to visit to Great Britain. However, their well-chronicled journey to London in 1710 did produce the earliest known surviving portraits from life of the native people of North America.

As part of a diplomatic visit organized by Pieter Schuyler, the mayor of Albany, to court support against the French, the delegation had travelled from New York to seek an audience with Queen Anne. Accompanied by British army officers were three Mohawk chiefs from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) alliance and one Mohican from the Algonquin nations. They were received in London as diplomats and were transported through the streets of the city to St. James Palace in Royal carriages.

To commemorate the visit, Queen Anne commissioned John Verelst (1648-1734), a Dutch artist residing in London, to create official portraits. Such was the interest of the European public, his images, now in the Public Archives of Canada, were soon engraved and sold as prints.

The three Mohawk were: Ho Nee Yeath Taw No Row of the Wolf Clan, called King of Canajoharie; Tee Yee Ho Ga Row (King Hendrick); and Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow of the Bear Clan (Peter Brant). The Mohican chief was Etow Oh Koam of the Turtle Clan who was mistakenly identified in his portrait as Emperor of the Six Nations.

Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow and Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row were the subjects of two mezzotints offered for sale by Tremont Auctions on August 6 as part of the dispersal of items from the library of Winfield Robbins (1841-1910) of Arlington, Massachusetts.

The earlier of the two images, measuring 8.5 by 6in and dated circa 1710, is from a set of four bust portraits produced in the Amsterdam workshop of the German-born publisher Peter Schenk the Elder (1660-1711). The full title reads Coning vande Maquas alias Coning Brant. The sitter, shown with his distinctive chest tattoos, died soon after he returned from London. He was the grandfather of the 18th-century Mohawk leader Joseph Brant.

Other impressions of this print survive in the Royal Collection Trust and other important institutional collections. Estimated at $2,000-$3,000, it sold at $16,000 ($20,320 including buyer’s premium).

The mezzotint entitled Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row is from the set of full-length images of the Four Indian Kings by the Anglo-French engraver Jean Simon. Entitled Tee Yee Ho Ga Row Emperour of the Six Nations, it shows the Mohawk leader in European attire carrying a beaded wampum belt. Considered a third state of this engraving, printed circa 1755, it too was estimated at $2,000-$3,000 and sold at $12,000 ($15,240 with buyer’s premium).

Both prints were previously part of the library amassed by Robbins. During his travels to Europe, Robbins collected some 150,000 prints, most depicting now-forgotten European aristocrats, which he later left to his hometown. After recent approval was given to deaccession, selections from this extensive collection will be offered by Tremont Auctions in upcoming sales.

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