Karl Bodmer (Swiss-born, 1809-1893). "Boston Lighthouse. Vig. I." (Vignette 1 from the atlas to the journal of Prince Maximilian of Wied ("Travels in the Interior of North America"); Paris, Coblenz, and London: 1839-1842. A hand-colored aquatint engraving by Martens after Bodmer, with a Bodmer blindstamp beneath the title. Titles in French beneath the image read, "Dessine d'apres nature par Ch. Bodmer." (left); "Boston Lighthouse." (center); "Grave par Martens." (right). An intriguing scene of Bodmer's arrival to the New World. Bodmer depicts himself and Prince Maximilian aboard the American brig Janus, at the end of the treacherous Atlantic crossing, passing the beckoning lighthouse and approaching Boston harbour. A gaggle of seabirds greet the pair of explorers on this morning of the 4th of July in 1832. Given that this was the 56th anniversary of the US's independence, it is quite possible that booming sounds of firing cannons aroused the avian creatures. Size: 10.5" W x 8" H (26.7 cm x 20.3 cm) Size: 19.125" W x 16.875" H (48.6 cm x 42.9 cm) with mat and frame & UV protection glass
Karl Bodmer's works demonstrate his immense technical virtuosity and during their day provided a detailed image of a previously little known (and unfortunately not long for this world) way of life. Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied (1782-1867) invited Bodmer to create a visual record of his travels in North America, primarily to learn more about the Plains Indians in this era prior to the invention of the camera. The pair along with David Dreidoppel, the Prince's hunting companion and servant, traveled from 1832 to 1834. They landed in Boston in July 1832, then traveled to Philadelphia, where Napoleon Bonaparte's elder brother Joseph hosted them. Next, they headed west via Pennsylvania across the Alleghenies to Pittsburgh and the Ohio country, all the while visiting important German settlements - the utopian colony of New Harmony in Indiana being a particularly important stop. It was there that the Prince spent five months in the company of some of the countries leading experts, and studied informative literature about the American frontier. On March 1833, the party reached St. Louis, Missouri, and set off on their journey to meet and learn about Native Americans.
The trio left St. Louis aboard the steamer known as Yellow Stone on April 10, 1833. Proceeding up the perilous Missouri River following the line of forts established by the American Fur Company, they first met Native Americans at Bellevue; next, they met the Sioux peoples, all the while learning everything they could and recording the little known ceremonial dances and customs. Next, they transferred from the Yellow Stone to the Assinboine steamer, and continued to Fort Clark, visiting the Mandan, Crow, and Mintari tribes, and then the Assinboins at Fort Union, which was the primary base of the American Fur Company. They next boarded a smaller vessel to travel through the geological region of that section of the Missouri to Fort Mackenzie in Montana, where they cautiously established a friendship with the legendarily fierce Blackfeet. This was their westernmost point, as it was considered much too dangerous to continue on. Hence, they returned downstream, and the winter months presented their own set of challenges. However, Bodmer continued to create magnificent studies of the peoples, dances, and villages.
Provenance: private Lucille Lucas collection, Crested Butte, Colorado, USA
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