View full screen - View 1 of Lot 160. Bodmer, Karl | Perhaps the greatest image to emerge from the picturing of the American West.
160

Bodmer, Karl | Perhaps the greatest image to emerge from the picturing of the American West

Bodmer, Karl | Perhaps the greatest image to emerge from the picturing of the American West

Bodmer, Karl | Perhaps the greatest image to emerge from the picturing of the American West

Bodmer, Karl

Péhriska-Rúhpa. Moennitarri Warrior in the Costume of the Dog Danse. [Tab. 23]. [Leipzig: Schmidt and Guenther, 1922]


Aquatint engraving (sheet size: 647 x 498 in). By René Rollet after Bodmer, hand-colored. 


Bodmer's most iconic image


From the scarce Leipzig edition printed from the original copper-plates. Limited in number, the prints from the Leipzig edition are more scarce than, and compare favorably to, the first edition (Hunt).


Perhaps the greatest image to emerge from the picturing of the American West, and certainly Bodmer's most famous, this highly-charged portrait of Péhriska-Rúhpa ("Two Ravens") presents the warrior and chief of the Hidatsa in way that encapsulates the vanished era of the Plains Indian. Péhriska-Rúhpa dances in his regalia as a principal leader of the Dog Society of his village.


The Dog Society was one of seven such societies among the men of the Mandan and Hidatsa Tribes. They were one of the main tenets by which Hidatsa society lived. As an individual progressed through life, it was necessary for him to purchase his entry into successive societies, starting with "the foolish dogs" at about ten to fifteen years of age and graduating to the society of the black-tailed deer for men over fifty. The Dog Society was the fourth of these progressions. Each society had a set number of members, so that an individual from a lower society could only buy entry to the higher society if there was a member of that society who was himself ready to move to the society above his. They all had individual rules, rituals, dances and regalia. All this information was carefully recorded by Prince Maximilian during the travelers' winter stop-over at Fort Clark in 1833-1834. This portrait, Bodmer's masterpiece, was painted in March 1834 towards the end of this stay.


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 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), the men traveled in North America from 1832 to 1834. 


REFERENCE

David C. Hunt, "Karl Bodmer and the American Frontier" in Imprint, Spring 1985, 18; Cf.Graff 4648; cf. Howes M443a; cf. Pilling 2521; cf. Sabin 47014; cf. Wagner-Camp 76:1

Condition as described in catalogue entry.


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