Bodmer, Karl, and Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied. Travels in the Interior of North America... A very fine set of the greatest illustrated American travel narrative and the most important depiction of American Indians in the frontier era: the rare English edition, with all 81 plates issued “superbly colored” and on large paper
BODMER, KARL, AND PRINCE MAXIMILIAN ZU WIED-NEUWIED
TRAVELS IN THE INTERIOR OF NORTH AMERICA...WITH NUMEROUS ENGRAVINGS ON WOOD, AND A LARGE MAP. TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY H. EVANS LLOYD. TO ACCOMPANY THE ORIGINAL SERIES OF EIGHTY-ONE ELABORATELY-COLORED PLATES. LONDON: ACKERMANN AND CO, [1839-]1843
2 volumes. Text: 1 volume, 4to (12 x 9 5/8 in.; 305 x 244 mm). 59 wood-engraved text vignettes, 2 wood-engraved text maps. Contemporary English green half morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, spine with raised bands in six compartments, second gilt lettered, others with repeat decoration in gilt. Plates: 1 volume, folio (22 7/8 x 16 1/2 in.; 581 x 394 mm). 81 hand-colored aquatint plates, comprising 48 tableau plates and 33 vignette plates, all after Karl Bodmer, many heightened with gum arabic, all with the artist's blind-stamp beneath the imprint, by J. Hurlimann, L. Weber, C. Vogel, and others, printed by Bougeard, 1 large folding engraved "Map to illustrate the Route of Prince Maximilian of Wied" by Lieut.-Col. W. Thorn, with large scenic vignette and with the route of the expedition outlined in color. Bound in green half morocco over contemporary marbled paper-covered boards, spine with raised bands in eight compartments, second gilt lettered, others with repeat decoration in gilt
A very fine set of the greatest illustrated American travel narrative and the most important depiction of American Indians in the frontier era: the rare English edition, with all 81 plates issued “superbly colored” and on large paper
This exemplary set has two main advantages when compared to the much more common German or French language editions: the text is in English and therefore, arguably, in its most accessible form for many Americana collectors, and each of the 33 vignette plates are printed on large sheets uniform with the tableau plates and hand-colored. Having both the tableau and vignette plates in folio and colored (as called for on the text title) is only otherwise found in the most expensive deluxe German and French editions.
Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied's text was first published in German in Coblenz from 1839 through 1841, with the present abridged English translation being issued in London by Ackermann in 1843. However, as Lloyd makes clear in the preface, the plates are first issues: "Some specimens of the plates having been brought to London, were so much admired by many competent judges, that Messrs. Ackermann were induced to agree with the Paris publisher for a limited number of copies of the plates." (The plates, as well as the maps, have trilingual captions: German, English, and French.)
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 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. Well-armed with information and advice, the party finally left St. Louis, on the most important stage of their travels, aboard the steamboat Yellowstone on 10 April 1833. They proceeded up the treacherous Missouri River along the line of forts established by the American Fur Company. At Bellevue they encountered their first Indians, then went on to make contact with the Sioux tribe, learning of and recording their little-known ceremonial dances and their powerful pride and dignity. Transferring from the Yellowstone to another steamboat, the Assiniboine, they continued to Fort Clark, visiting there the Mandan, Mintari and Crow tribes, then the Assiniboines at Fort Union, the main base of the American Fur Company. On a necessarily much smaller vessel they journeyed through the extraordinary geological scenery of that section of the Missouri to Fort Mackenzie in Montana, establishing a cautious friendship with the fearsome Blackfeet. From this, the westernmost point reached, it was considered too dangerous to continue and the return journey downstream began. The winter brought its own difficulties and discomforts, but Bodmer was still able to execute numerous studies of villages, dances and especially the people, who were often both intrigued and delighted by his work. The portraits are particularly notable for their capturing of individual personalities, as well as forming a primary account of what were to become virtually lost cultures. The travelers finally reached St. Louis in May 1834.
Besides being the first really accurate portrayal of the Plains Indians to reach a Western audience, Bodmer's sketches proved to be doubly valuable after the 1837 smallpox epidemic which killed more than half the Blackfeet and almost all the Mandans, "Bodmer's visual work, together with Prince Maximilian's detailed studies of these tribes, from the primary accounts of what became virtually lost cultures" (Goetzmann p. 21). H. Evans Lloyd, the translator of the present work, also included a detailed and devastating eye-witness report of "the almost total extinction" of many of the peoples surveyed in the work.
Abbey, Travel II:615 (the only published listing of the plates); Graff 4648; Howes M443a ("dd"); Wagner-Camp 76
Bodmer, Karl, & Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied. A very fine set of the rare English edition, with all 81 plates issued “superbly colored” and on large paper
Condition as described in catalogue entry.
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