KURZ, Rudolf Friedrich (1818-1871)
[Three original drawings from his 1846-1852 travels in the American West]
[Np: circa 1852].
Three extraordinary drawings by a noted Swiss artist who lived and worked among the tribes of the Upper Missouri.
Rudolf Friedrich Kurz, a Swiss artist, arrived in New Orleans in 1846, beginning a six-year sojourn at the western trading posts along the Mississippi and to the Upper Missouri. Joining the American Fur Company, Kurz spent significant time at Fort Berthold, North Dakota, Fort Union, Bellevue, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa, trading and living among the Indians. His journal from that time survives, located at the Bernisches Historisches Museum, and is filled with pencil sketches of both people, landscape and native artifacts. Highly sympathetic of the native people, he writes in his journal that the purpose of his trip was to give a sincere portrayal of the American Indian. Upon his return to Bern in 1852, he worked up his sketches into more finished watercolours and oil paintings. However, they seldom appear on the market. The present drawings comprise: 1) [Self-portrait on horseback, riding across the Plains alongside an Indian, with a painted chest, a red blanket and with three feathers in his hair]. Watercolour finished with gum arabic. Signed lower left. Sheet size: 8 3/4 x 12 inches. 2) [Decorated Buffalo robe, depicting the victories and achievements of its original Native American owner]. Pen-and-ink and watercolour over graphite. Sheet size: 10 3/8 x 14 inches. 3) [Decorated Buffalo robe, depicting the victories and achievements of its original Native American owner]. Pen-and-ink and watercolour over graphite. Sheet size: 10 3/8 x 14 inches.
Cf. Journal of Rudolph Friedrich Kurz. Translated by Myrtis Jarrett. Edited by J.N.B. Hewitt. [Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 115]. (Washington: GPO, 1937); Ernst J. Klay, Das romantische Leben der Indianer, malerisch darzustellen: Leben und Werk von Rudolf Friedrich Kurz. Verlag (Solothurn: Aare, 1984).