BODMER, Karl (1809-1893)
Entry to the Bay of New York taken from Staten Island
Paris, Coblenz and London: [1839-42]. Aquatint engraving by Salathé after Bodmer, printed in colours and finished by hand, blindstamp. Sheet size: 10 3/4 x 14 1/4 inches.
Shortly after their arrival in the New World, Bodmer and Prince Maximilian boarded the steamer Boston bound for New York via Providence, Rhode Island. They arrived in New York at noon on the 9th July 1832. Bodmer later sketched the scene of their arrival from Staten Island: a day of squally showers, a sailing ship moored in the bay is momentarily in the shadow of a passing cloud, from a vantage point some half a mile inland the viewer looks out past the Narrows, guarded by Fort Lafayette, Coney Island just visible four or five miles in the distance, and finally to the Atlantic beyond.
Karl Bodmer's images show great versatility and technical virtuosity and give us a uniquely accomplished and detailed picture of a previously little understood (and soon to vanish) way of life. Swiss-born Bodmer was engaged by Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied (1782-1867) specifically to provide a record of his travels in North America, principally among the Plains Indians. In the company of David Dreidoppel (Prince Maximilian's servant and hunting companion), their travels in North America were to last from 1832 to 1834. They arrived in Boston in July 1832, traveled on to Philadelphia, where they stayed with Napoleon Bonaparte's elder brother Joseph. From here they headed west across Pennsylvania across the Alleghenies to Pittsburgh and the Ohio country, visiting all the important German settlements en route. Their most important stop on their route west was at the utopian colony of New Harmony in Indiana. The Prince spent five months there in the company of some of the country's leading scientific men, and studying all the relevant literature on backcountry America. On 24 March 1833 the party reached St. Louis, Missouri, and the start of the journey into Indian country.
Graff 4648; Howes M443a; Pilling 2521; Sabin 47014; Wagner-Camp 76:1.