SPLENDID HAND-COLORED BODMER INDIAN GROUP PORTRAIT, ONE OF THE LATER VIGNETTE IMPRESSIONS
BODMER, Karl. Saukie and Fox Indians. [Leipzig: Schmidt & Guenther, 1922]. Mixed engraving methods printed on mounted India tissue, plate impression measures 13-1/2 by 10-1/2 inches; window matted, entire piece measures 23 by 20 inches. $1500.
Vivid Leipzig restrike of “Vignette X” 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 aquatint plates (48 folios and 33 “vignettes”) after paintings by Karl Bodmer was issued in Paris, and accompanied all three of these editions. The images provide an authentic glimpse into 19th-century America by one of the most eminent European artists. 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 nineteenth 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). This superb hand-colored group portrait of Saki and Fox leaders was apparently sketched by Bodmer on March 27, 1833 in St. Louis, where the Indians had come to negotiate the release of Black Hawk, a Saki chief, who had been captured the previous summer following a series of skirmishes with the U.S. Army. Maximilian described them as “stout, well formed men, many of them tall, broad shouldered, muscular and brawny. The features of the men are expressive, and strongly marked: the cheek bones prominent, the lower jaw broad and angular, and the dark brown eyes animated and fiery.” The engraving is vignette number X, restruck on India paper from the original copperplate enhanced by Johann Hürlimann and issued as the “Leipzig edition” of 1922, with the requisite three separate imprint statements and captions in German, French and English. The original plate had been engraved by Charles Vogel. Limited in number, the prints from the Leipzig edition are “more scarce than, and compare favorably to, the first edition” (David C. Hunt). Ruud, 263. See Howes M443a. Wagner-Camp 76. Streeter III:1809.
Vividly hand-colored, light foxing to margins (not affecting image). A bright and handsome copy of the scarce Leipzig republication.