Born in France, Jules Tavernier trained as an artist and exhibited his paintings at the Paris Salon in the 1860s. He arrived in New York in August 1871, initially showcasing his skills as an illustrator with scenes of daily life and American landscapes. Hired by Harper’s Weekly, Tavernier traveled across the country to make a “pictorial record” of what he saw—including the impacts of the Transcontinental Railroad, rapid expansion of white settlement and the US government’s forced relocation of Indigenous communities from their ancestral lands to reservations. Tavernier sought out direct encounters with Native Americans, witnessing the Sun Dance ceremony and meeting Chief Red Cloud and Sitting Bull, a lieutenant headman of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Tavernier completed at least thirty paintings of Indigenous peoples over the course of his career, portraying ceremonies and gatherings, and the awe-inspiring beauty of the contested landscapes.