BODMER, Karl (1809-1893)
Cutoff-River. Branch of the Wabash
[Vig. 8] Paris, Coblenz and London: [1839-1842]. Hand-coloured aquatint engraving by Weber after Bodmer, blindstamp. Sheet size: 17 3/4 x 24 3/8 inches. Plate mark: 9 x 12 3/4 inches.
A highly dramatic scene that amply displays Bodmer's love of the natural landscape. A day's excursion on a little frequented tributary of the Wabash draws to a close, the light is fading, the artist leaves his canoe wedged against a half-submerged tree-trunk long enough to make one final sketch before heading home. A Turkey Vulture settles down to roost. During Prince Maximilian's five month stay at New Harmony, Indiana, Bodmer had ample opportunity to explore the surrounding landscape. The present view was probably carried out in late November or early December 1832. 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 countries 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.