Two watercolor views, both mountain scenes
ca. mid 19th century · n.p.
by Bodmer, Karl
n.p.: n.d., ca. mid 19th century. A rare pair of watercolor views by the famous Swiss/American artist Karl Bodmer, one signed in pencil on the back "K Bodmer." Bodmer (1809-1893) is best known for his paintings and watercolors of American plains Indians and the landscape they inhabited, at a time before the onrush of western emigration. It is not clear if these are American views, though they certainly look similar to the kinds of rock formations and other landmarks Bodmer sketched at places like Fort McKenzie, the westernmost point in his journey, and the unusual land forms along the Missouri. Bodmer returned to Europe in 1834, going to Paris, then to the Barbizon region of France, where he was associated with Jean Francois Millet. He never returned to America, but went on to illustrate books and magazines and was known for forest landscapes and renditions of birds and animals. Each watercolor measures 7 x 9 inches, and they are both glued at the top (not on any actual pigment) to the back of old mats. There are other pencilled notations on the backs. Onereads "132 ... [K or C]arl Bodmer... 8" 1st Sketch." The other reads (as I make it out) "Give Back To [K or C]arl Bodmer in Rte... Sinclair # 4..." and below, "K Bodmer." (Bodmer signed his works variously as "K" or "C", even while on the expedition to Montana). Both are on a wove paper and the pigment shows oxidation. The backs of the watercolors and old mats have shadows from the old wood backings that were obviously pressed against them for a long time. Bodmer traveled, from 1832-1834, with the German Prince Maximilian, up the Missouri to the Dakotas. Before heading west, they toured Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York (Including Niagara Falls), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana (spending the winter in the utopian community of New Harmony), then on to Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Montana, where the artist concentrated on painting his famous portraits of native Americans. Bodmer later made a side trip to New Orleans, where he painted full-length portraits of Choctaw Indians. The magnificent folio production of 81 hand-colored views and accompanying text published in Europe, titled Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-34, has been praised as the most beautiful and accurate representation of native America ever issued. Most of the original watercolors and sketches from the trip are now located at the Joslyn Art Museum, although, according to David C. Hunt and Marsha V. Gallagher, in "Karl Bodmer's America," "Other of Bodmer's works pertaining to the North American expedition, derived for the most part from the Bodmer estate sale in Paris in 1893, have since found their way into museum or private hands in Europe and the United States." web & print. (Inventory #: 27196)