Horse Racing of Sioux Indians near Fort Pierre


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BODMER, Karl. Horse Racing of Sioux Indians near Fort Pierre. Paris: Arthus Bertrand (Imprimé de Bougeard), [1841]. Original hand-colored engraving, plate impression measures 9 by 12-1/2 inches; window matted, entire piece measures 23 by 20 inches.

Original hand-colored Plate XXX, first state, one of the 33 “vignette” plates from Karl Bodmer’s magnificent picture atlas produced for Maximilian Wied-Neuwied’s Travels in the Interior of North America (1839-43).

Maximilian's monumental work was originally published in German (1839-41); a French translation followed in 1840-43 and an English translation in 1843. A picture-atlas of eighty-one plates (48 folios and 33 "vignettes") after paintings by Karl Bodmer was issued in Paris, and accompanied all three of these editions. This Atlas is now regarded as one of the most comprehensive and memorable visual surveys of the western territories ever produced. Unlike some other painters of the American West, Bodmer tried not to romanticize his subjects, but show them as they really were. "Bodmer's watercolors are perhaps the most accurate works of art ever made of American Indians during the 19th century. His attention in detail to beadwork, personal symbols, clothing, accoutrements, and facial expression make these portraits precious documents of a lost world" (Robert Moore). In 1833-34 Maximilian's party embarked on the most important part of their travels-they proceeded up the treacherous Missouri River along the line of forts established by the American Fur Company, in the Company's Yellowstone, the first steamer to ascend the Missouri as far as Fort Pierre. There they made contact with the Sioux Tribe, learning and recording their little known ceremonial dances, their powerful pride and dignity, and their recreations, including horse racing as depicted in this superb hand-colored engraving, with Fort Pierre in the background. Maximilian recorded in his journal: "In the daytime the Indians were often seen galloping their horses, mostly riding on their bare backs: sometimes they ran races, as Mr. Bodmer has represented." "With the name of the artist-'C. Bodmer Direct.'-stamped in blind on each of the plates, this work is the most beautiful, faithful and vivid ever produced depicting western plains and Indians" (Howes M443a). This is one of the 33 beautiful vignettes, number XXX (with the requisite three separate imprint statements, captions in German, French, and English, and the embossed stamp). First state, without date in imprint statement. Ruud, 315. See Howes M443a; Wagner-Camp 76; Streeter III:1809.

Lightly soiled. A very desirable and rare Bodmer, in extremely good condition.

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