Plate XXXII. A fine atmospheric view by Bodmer sketched during the traveller’s homeward journey. Having left Fort Clark on 18 April 1834, they retraced their steps to St.Louis, leaving on 3 June for Mount Vernon and New Harmony, before turning North to Vincennes, Indiana. Travelling eastwards from here they arrived again on the Ohio opposite Louisville, Kentucky, took a ship to Cincinnati and Portsmouth, and from Portsmouth followed the route of the Ohio Canal along the Scioto River northward to Cleveland on Lake Erie where this scene was captured by Bodmer. From here they continued on to Buffalo, New York.
From the illustrated ‘Travels in the Interior of North America between 1832-34’ by Prince Maximilian Alexander Philipp Zu Wied-Neuweid, published in two volumes by Ackermmann in London 1843.
The finest work on American Indian life and the American Frontier, it is the result of an epic journey which took place at a time when the mass migrations of settlers and pioneers was about to alter irrevocably the unspoiled West. Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) was engaged by Prince Maximilian (already famed for his earlier explorations in Brazil) to provide a record of his travels among the Plains Indians of North America during 1833-34. His efforts show great versatility and technical virtuosity and give us a uniquely thorough, accomplished and detailed picture of a previously little understood (and soon to vanish) way of life.
The most important part of their travels started from St Louis, whence they proceeded up the treacherous Missouri along the line of forts established by the the American Fur Company. At Bellevue they encountered their first Indians, then went on to make contact with the Sioux Tribe, learning and recording their little known ceremonial dances, their powerful pride and dignity. Transfering from the ‘Yellow Stone’ to another steamer the ‘Assiniboine’, they continued to Fort Clark, studying there the Mandan, Mintari and Crow Tribes, then the Cree and Assiniboine tribes at Fort Union, the main base of the American Fur Company. On a necessarily much smaller vessel they journeyed through the extraordinary geological scenery of that section of the Missouri to Fort Mackenzie in Montana. Established over a month there a cautious friendship developed with the fearsome Blackfoot Tribe. From this, the westernmost point reached, it was considered too dangerous to continue and the return journey downstream began. The winter brought its own difficulties and discomforts, but Bodmer was still able to execute numerous studies of villages, dances and, especially, the people, who were often intrigued and delighted by his work. The portraits are particularly notable for capturing individual personalities, as well as forming, together with Prince Maximilian’s written studies, the primary accounts of what became virtually lost cultures.
Aquatint engraving with fine later hand-colouring by Karl Bodmer for the illustrated ‘Travels in the Interior of North America between 1832-34’ by Prince Maximilian Alexander Philipp Zu Wied-Neuweid, published in two volumes by Ackermann in London 1843. At the foot of each plate is the studio stamp, a blind embossed panel with the words ‘C Bodmer/Direct’.
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