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Prints by Karl Bodmer

[ Aquatints | Lithographs | Steel engravings ]


Prints from Travels In the Interior of North America in the Years 1832 to 1834. London: Ackermann and Company, 1839-1843. Aquatints. Except as noted: with blind stamps; full hand color; and very good condition.

Bodmer: Pl. 24 Karl Bodmer, (1809-1893), is considered by many to be the greatest 19th-century artist to have produced prints of the American west. Bodmer and his patron, Prince Maximilian of Wied, came to America from Germany in 1832. With Bodmer in charge of the pictorial documentary, Prince Maximilian, an experienced and respected traveler and naturalist, set out to put together as complete a study as possible of the western territories of the United States. The result was the publication of Maximilian's journals in successive German, French, and English editions between 1839 and 1843, and with it, a picture atlas of eighty-one aquatint plates after paintings by Bodmer. This picture volume is now regarded as one of the most comprehensive and memorable visual surveys of the western territories ever made. The prints provide a rare and privileged glimpse into 19th-century America by one of the now most coveted artists of the period.


Swiss Bodmer prints

Bodmer lithograph After Karl Bodmer. From H.R. Schinz's Naturgeschichte und Abbildungen des Menschen. Zurich: Honeggerschen Lithographischen Anstalt, 1836-45. Ca. 11 x 8. Lithographs by J. Honegger. Full hand color. Very good condition. Denver.

From as early as 1835 (before the official version of Bodmer's prints had been issued) until 1845, H.R. Schinz published a natural history, with a focus on humans of different races, which included as illustrations very fine lithographs taken from some of the Bodmer prints. Of the first images after Bodmer that appeared in Schinz's volume Peter Bolz wrote: "these portraits were the first published copies of pictures of American Indians from Bodmer's travels in North America. They were issued about a year after his return to Europe and approximately four years before Prince Maximilian started publishing his extravagant travel journal in 1839. This is one of the reasons why the prints are of special significant: they founded the artist's reputation as the 'Indian Bodmer.'" (From "Karl Bodmer, Heinrich Rudolf Schinz and the Changing Image of the American Indian in Europe." In Karl Bodmer. A Swiss Artist in America 1809-1893. 2009.)

Schinz continued to issue different Bodmer images in later editions, based on the aquatints once they were published. These Schinz prints are the earliest and largest derivatives of Bodmer's images, and are if anything rarer than the aquatints. They were very influential in spreading Bodmer's images of the American Indian throughout Europe. These are fine examples of the output of one of the greatest chroniclers of Native Americans.


Prints from Graham's Magazine

Battle at Fort Mackenzie
After Karl Bodmer. From Graham's Magazine. Philadelphia, 1845. Steel engravings by Rawdon, Wright & Hatch. Some very light stains. Very good condition, except as noted.

Shortly after the atlas volume of Bodmer aquatints was issued, a series of reduced prints based on his images was published in the Philadelphia publication Graham's Magazine. These are finely copied steel engraving, making them contemporary and affordable examples of Bodmer's classic western images.


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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated November 12, 2014